The Vanier Cup will be a showdown of the two best offenses in Canadian college football when the No. 1 Western Mustangs take on the No. 2 Saskatchewan Huskies.
But Western head coach Greg Marshall believes defenses could dictate the pace of the championship game Saturday at Laval University’s Stade Telus. Their defenses are also some of the best in Canada, as the Mustangs are second in the country while the Huskies are fifth.
Western and Saskatchewan advance to the Vanier Cup in very different ways
Marshall said he sees a lot of similarities between the two teams.
“They have great defense,” said Marshall, three-time U Sports coach of the year. “They can practice against a great rushing team every day, like ours, but their offensive line is very athletic. But ours is one of the best I’ve ever trained.
“(Saskatchewan) is battle tested. They went through a difficult game last week to get here, and they are built like us, to play winter football. “
Western (9-1) worked his way to the Vanier Cup championship by crushing the X-Men of St. Francis Xavier, 61-6 to capture the Mitchell Bowl on November 27.
As for the Huskies (8-1), their offense finally exploded against the Université de Montreal in the fourth quarter by scoring 13 points, including a touchdown five seconds from the end, to beat the Carabins, 14-10. The victory gave Saskatchewan their first Uteck Bowl and their first trip to the Vanier Cup since 2006, which also came against Laval.
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Huskies head coach Scott Flory believes his team has yet to play its best game of the season.
“We knew that playing in Montreal would be difficult, but you get there and the mermaids, the fans, it was very strong,” said Flory. “In the end, our best players made the biggest plays in the game.”
Western Mustangs pass over St. FX at the Mitchell Bowl
The Huskies will make their 10th appearance in the U Sports national soccer championship, while the Mustangs will play their 15th game for the title. Western’s last visit was in 2018, against the Université Laval Rouge et Or.
Western has seven Vanier Cups under its belt, while Saskatchewan has three national titles.
Flory said the hard-fought win over the Carabins could be a boost to his Huskies’ confidence, but that it still doesn’t guarantee anything in the Vanier Cup.
“We have to use that and do our best for three hours against Western, which is a great soccer team,” said Flory, a two-time Vanier Cup champion in 1996 and 1998.
The Huskies and Mustangs have 12 stars this season, including seven on the Canadian first team. Western receiver Savaughn Magnaye-Jones and center Elliot Beamer join Uteck Bowl MVP running back Adam Machart and tackle Noah Zerr from Saskatchewan.
On defense, Huskies defensive tackle Nathan Cherry is joined by defensive end Deionte Knight and free safety Daniel Valente of Western in the All-Canadian first team. Huskies punter David Solie was also selected as a member of the special teams unit in the All-Canadian first team.
Kick-off is scheduled for 1pm ET on Saturday. It is the last date of the Vanier Cup in history. The forecasts indicate a mixture of sun and clouds, and a temperature of -10 ° C.
Saskatchewan Huskies defeated Manitoba Bisons 45-17 to win the 84th Hardy Cup
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