This should be a good game. I don’t think Laurier can match Guelph in terms of talent but they will be playing in front of a large Homecoming crowd. And the Hawks will have plenty of motivation as they are battling for a playoff spot. The Golden Hawks opened the season with a stunning 19-0 loss to UofT, followed by a loss to Queen’s. The Hawks are 2-2 after defeating York (1-3) and Ottawa (0-4). Details of last week’s victory over the GeeGees can be found here.
The Gryphons enter the game tied for second in the OUA with Queen’s and Western. We need a victory tomorrow to maintain the strong prospect of earning a home playoff game. A loss would likely see us slip back into a tie with WLU and Windsor. I also believe that the Gryphons need to show that they can reduce their mistakes, penalties and turnovers. In the previous two games the Gryphons have physically outplayed Waterloo and Toronto by a wide margin but didn’t separate themselves on the scoreboard for significant parts of those games. Giving up 13 points and well over 100 yards of offense in the final 3 minutes against UofT was terrible, though a brutally bad penalty call was part of the problem.
What to expect tomorrow: Given that the Gryphons outplayed the Golden Hawks in last year’s finale [my game thoughts here and here] and handled them again in a spring scrimmage I have no doubt that they can win this game. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. The Hawks have a good defense but we moved the ball very well against them. The recent problem for the Gryph O vs the Hawks was in the red zone. The WLU defense used a lot of blitzing near the goalline. I expect the O will be prepared for it and ready to exploit it.
On the other hand our D did a great job of limiting the Hawk offense and I expect more of that tomorrow. With our front seven playing so well, producing sacks and limiting the run, and Laurier struggling on offense, particularly along the o-line, they could have a very dominant game. But even a dominant offensive and defensive performance doesn’t guarantee a win as we nearly saw last week. The real difference in the WLU loss last year was Guelph’s turnovers and penalties. That could also be the key tomorrow. We are entering the second half of the season and the Gryphons need to play a complete game with fewer miscues.
The series since 2007: Laurier has had a clear advantage in regular season play going 5-0 since 2007. Several of those games have been close, others not. A 47-yard FG in the closing seconds of the 2008 season opener would have given Guelph the win but it was wide right. The teams have split two playoff games. Guelph’s lone victory over the Hawks was a win in the 2007 OUA semi-final that propelled the Gryphons to the Yates Cup. This is a great opportunity for Guelph to turn-around that streak.
2011 – 15-10 WLU
2010 – WLU wins Q-final
2010 – 36-2 WLU
2009 – 21-14 WLU
2008 – 15-13 WLU
2007 – 38-31 Guelph wins OUA semi-final
2007 – 37-27 WLU
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The CFC point spread: Guelph (3-1) at Laurier (2-2) Guelph (-6)
I think if Guelph plays well they could win by a lot more than 6 points.