Canada West football Week 2: My return to something I’ll call glory

- September 7th, 2012

Last year, I did a weekly breakdown of upcoming games in Canada West football complete with my “analysis” (quote marks fully intended) along with my predictions.

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The Sea of Red in Lincoln, Neb., proved to be a bit too much of a distraction for any blogging to get done last weekend.

This year I’m a week late for it largely because of the image you see to your right, my yearly trip to the state of Nebraska for a college football pilgrimage. I don’t know if you folks have been on a lot of road trips in your life, but on my excursions, let’s just say rushing to find a computer isn’t foremost on the priority list. Does this make me a bad blogger? Probably. But, I’ll tell ya what, there’s 1000 other reasons I suck at this that rank ahead of “he didn’t write about CIS football when he was in another country watching NCAA football.” So, yes, Nebraska (and the local team’s 49-20 triumph over Southern Mississippi) did in fact win over my attentions and, as such, the CIS coverage suffered.

Don’t worry, you’ll get over it.

So now I make my triumphant return to the shores of Prognosticatia and break down Week 2, or as it’s also known, “We Have No Idea What To Think”.

Alberta (0-1) at Calgary (1-0), Friday, 6:30 p.m. CT

In the NCAA this week, Savannah State is 70.5-point underdog on the road at Florida State, a week after it was a 69.5-point dog (and failed to cover) against Oklahoma State. Now, I wouldn’t be laying those kinds of points in this Battle of Alberta, but the Golden Bears would be getting a lot of points to work with on the road a week after being shut out by Saskatchewan.

Winless (save for the two wins they got by UBC’s vacating of victories) in 2011, the Golden Bears produced a tad more than 200 yards of total offence in their Week 1 loss and head on the road for the second week, this time taking on the No. 3-ranked team in the nation. It is still a very young team and one with questions remaining at quarterback.

Calgary, meanwhile, had to slug out a 37-21 opening-week win over Regina. Junior quarterback Eric Dzwilewski leads the charge after being named the conference’s offensive player of the week and the running game has one of the conference’s best with senior tailback Steven Lumbala coming off a 150-yard effort against the Rams.

The Bears have averaged eight points per game against the Dinos in their last six contests, and there’s little reason to believe that won’t continue Friday.

The Pick: Calgary 38, Alberta 0

UBC (0-1) at Regina (0-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

It’s not often you get a pivotal game in Week 2, but both teams here have to see this as fairly critical, especially the T-Birds, who had all the feel-good emotions of having a home game as a ranked team to start their season after going to the Canada West final a year ago and promptly got upset by the upstart Manitoba Bisons. So here the Birds are with fifth-year senior Billy Greene back behind centre leading and offence that is most certainly the backbone of this team. Greene was steady, if not spectacular, in Week 1 as the Thunderbirds offence managed just six points in the first half. UBC posted 497 yards of total offence and it will likely have to continue to do so because the defence, just like a year ago, apparently can’t stop anyone.

Regina, meanwhile, was a consensus pick to challenge for the conference in 2011, before fifth-year senior quarterback Marc Mueller went down with injury and missed the entire season. Mueller got his final year of eligibility back and showed in Week 1 why his presence had hopes so high for the Rams last season. Mueller completed 32 passes for 344 yards as Regina hung in with Calgary until a third-quarter meltdown.

If the Rams find a running game — something they were unable to do last week — then give them the edge. Realistically, whichever defence can get stops on a consistent basis is your winner and, until it proves otherwise, UBC is not that team.

The Pick: Regina 33, UBC 30

Saskatchewan (1-0) at Manitoba (1-0), Saturday, 1 p.m.

Oh the battle of the unbeatens in Week 2 — when we still aren’t quite sure how good either team is.

And that’s true in this situation with a pair of teams that absolutely should be in the playoffs, but if you’re betting your life on either, you might be a bit hesitant. (Let’s face it, if you’re in a situation where you literally are betting your life, you should probably be hesitant anyway because you’ve clearly gotten yourself into a predicament that should cause a significant amount of concern).

The No. 10 Bisons are a year older in the backfield and, man oh man, how excited must they be about the future with the stable of tailbacks they can trot out. Sophomore Nic Demski is a local kid who absolutely runs over and around everyone on the field. Demski was named the special-teams player of the week in the CIS after ripping off a game-changing 96-yard punt return TD in Week 1. Meanwhile, without the services of sophomore Anthony Coombs, the Bisons got a 19-carry, 174-yard effort from sophomore Kienan LaFrance, a sometimes forgotten entity with all the talk that has justifiably surrounded Demski and Coombs. Coombs will return from injury for the homecoming game so the Bisons will once again be able to run the ball 70 times if they so choose. (#sarcasm).

Then here come the Huskies, who hardly got a significant test in Week 1 getting a real battle for Week 2. They are lead by freshman quarterback Drew Burko, who was a pedestrian 13-for-24 for 187 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions against Alberta. The Bisons defence will be without veteran DB Teague Sherman, a significant loss on that side of the ball. The Huskies unveiled their defensive play-maker last week, with Dallas native Travoy Martinez being named CIS defensive player of the week after two interceptions against Alberta. Martinez at least got some looks from the likes of SMU, Texas-El Paso and Kansas, after graduating high school in 2010. By all accounts, he’s got exceptional athleticism and with the Bisons still working through the kinks with fifth-year senior Cam Clark in just his second game as a starter, Martinez will definitely be one to keep your eyes on.

The Pick: Manitoba 28, Saskatchewan 24

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Twitter: @LarkinsWSun

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