Notes from the North

Let's see: I went 4 and 11 in my NFL picks so far, my McMaster Marauders got pounded in the Vanier Cup championship game and the hated Toronto Argos won the CFL's Grey Cup championship at home on Sunday.

Awful, awful week of football.

The only good thing that happened on the gridiron this weekend was Notre Dame's victory over USC to stay perfect and ensure that the BCS title game doesn't pit two SEC teams against each other again this year.

Thanks to the Fighting Irish for giving me at least one positive thing to think about from a football standpoint.

I'll leave discussion of my awful week of NFL picks to tomorrow's blog since I still have to wait for Philly to lose tonight to make it an official, terrible 4-12 week.

In the Vanier Cup, the championship game for Canadian University football, my alma mater looked to defend last year's title in a rematch with the vaunted Laval Rouge et Or, winners of something like six of the last nine championships.

In 2011, the underdog Marauders surprised Laval with a first-half offensive display that was near perfection. Quarterback Kyle Quinlan showed early that he was a significant threat to run, which slowed the Rouge et Or pass rush and gave Quinlan time to pick apart their defensive secondary with his pin-point passing.

In 2012's game, it was clear that the powerful squad from Laval had learned its lesson and, even more importantly, was focused on exacting a measure of revenge for the previous year's defeat. They contained Quinlan's scrambles and put pressure on his passing, slowing the Mac attack down to a crawl.

Meanwhile, Laval worked hard to develop its run game, behind a fearsome offensive line that averages 6-4 and 305 pounds. Although McMaster's defense kept it a game early, giving up only 10 points in the first half, Laval had the luxury to keep pounding rather than having to play catch-up, a tactic that eventually wore down Mac's players.

Quinlan broke loose in the second quarter with two quick touchdowns (one on the ground and one through the air) and McMaster actually went into half-time with a two-point lead, 14-12 (in the field position battle, the Marauders were at one point forced to give up a safety rather than punt from their own endzone).

Unfortunately, the writing was on the wall at that point, even with McMaster leading. The second half was all Laval, with their O-line dominating the line of scrimmage in opening holes for their running backs and their defensive front wearing down McMaster's blockers with relentless pressure. The Rouge et Or scored 25 unanswered points after the break to win 37-14.

And, as for the Grey Cup, well, I'm a Hamilton Tiger Cat fan and we are never happy when Toronto wins. I hate to admit it but I didn't even watch the game. From what I heard, early turnovers killed the Calgary Stampeders and the rest was history.

I don't think I'll watch tonight's NFL game. I picked the Eagles and, the way things are going, that pretty much guarantees that Philadelphia will lose in a blood bath.

November 26, 2012  02:20 PM ET

Oh man, I'm sorry! I will say though, risks have to be taken if you want to gain spots in your pool. But it sounds like you took a few risks to many :-(

November 27, 2012  08:24 AM ET

Way too many. And, as often happens, instead of helping me gain spots in the pool, these risks costs me spots. Lots and lots of them. As in, from 24th to 49th! Ouch. How'd it go for you, LIHI?


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