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2007 CIS Vanier Cup: Canadian College Football Championship Game

by Randy Snow

Originally posted on AmericanChronicle.com, Saturday, November 24, 2007

This time of year, college football in the United States is just beginning to wind down. For some Division I-A team’s, their seasons are already over and the lower divisions within the NCAA have already begun their playoffs.

But up in Canada, the championship game of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) was played at the Rogers Centre (formerly the SkyDome) in Toronto on Friday night, November 23. The game is known as the Vanier Cup (pronounced van-YAE) and has been around since 1965.

There are 27 CIS schools in four conferences across Canada. They play by rules similar to the Canadian Football League such as three downs instead of four to make a first down and they play on a CFL sized field. The Canadian college football season consists of an eight-game regular season schedule followed by playoffs.

This year’s championship game was between the number three ranked Manitoba Bisons (11-0) from Winnipeg and the number four ranked Saint Mary’s Huskies (9-1) from Halifax, Nova Scotia. To get to the championship game, the Bisons defeated the number 10 ranked Western Ontario Mustangs 52-20 in the Mitchell Bowl played in Winnipeg last weekend while the Huskies defeated the defending Vanier Cup champion and number one ranked Laval Rouge et Or 24-2 in the Uteck Bowl played in Halifax.

Thanks to the Internet, I was able to listen to the game from my home in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I found the audio broadcast of the game through the web site of an AM sports radio station in Toronto, The FAN 590. The game was close in the first half with Manitoba leading 13-8 at halftime. The Bisons shut out the Huskies in the third quarter while increasing their lead to 23-8. Saint Mary’s made a comeback in the fourth quarter closing the gap to 26-14, but that was as close as they would come as Manitoba finished a 12-0 undefeated season and won the game, 28-14. It was the third Vanier Cup for Manitoba, who won back-to-back championships in 1969 and 1970.

This was only the second meeting ever between the two schools. The first was in the 2001 Vanier Cup. Saint Mary’s beat Manitoba in that game 42-16. The Huskies also won the Vanier Cup again in 2002 beating the Saskatchewan Huskies 33-21 but then lost in 2003 to Laval 14-7.

The CIS and the Canadian Football League got together this year and decided to host both of their football championship games at the same venue on the same weekend. CIS officials were concerned that their game would get lost in all the festivities surrounding the CFL Grey Cup game which was set to be played just two days later on Sunday, November 25. They will evaluate the experience over the next several months to decide if they want to continue their association with the CFL in the future.

The official attendance at the game was 26,787, which was the seventh largest crowd in Vanier Cup history. There were special offers available for fans who wanted to purchase ticket to both games.

Ironically, another team from Winnipeg is playing in the CFL Grey Cup game also. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 95th CFL championship game on Sunday.








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