It's not the simplest of tasks.
The Guelph Gryphons and Western Mustangs went toe to toe in one of the best heavyweight fights the conference has seen in quite some time. Points were hardly at a premium with a total of 95 of them being scored. There were five lead changes, 940 total yards combined and a game-winning field goal with just two seconds left on the clock.
'In The Huddle' caught up with Guelph head coach Stu Lang and asked him to use one word to describe the win. Not an easy assignment. One might think 'exhilarating', 'emotional' or 'fantastic' might come to mind. So many words to choose from, but which word did Lang use?
Excuse me? All of the potential ways to describe the Gryphons miraculous 49-46 victory on the weekend and the coach uses the word 'maturity?' Do tell coach, why would you use that one?
"There is a life progression of a football team," Lang told OUA.ca. "We've learned how to win, we've learned how to be resilient."
Not the over-the-moon enthusiasm that one might expect, but that's Coach Lang in a nutshell. He's always able to appreciate the victories, but continuously has the big picture in mind. That doesn't mean he's not thrilled with the Gryphons stunning come-from-behind win and the play of his quarterback.
Jazz Lindsey set a Guelph record with 513 yards passing.
"I never set a ceiling with Jazz," beamed the coach, "because he continues to surpass what I think. He seems to do what is needed."
He also took advantage of what was given. The Gryphons are thought of as a run first team and it's with good reason. With players like Rob Farquharson and Johnny Augustine at their disposal, the Gryphs have become quite adept at the ground-and-pound style of football.
On Saturday, Farquharson carried the ball just 15 times, while Lindsey threw an uncharacteristic 53 passes, completing 34 of those attempts. Lang admits that wasn't the game plan heading in.
"It's what presented itself," confessed Lang. "They were stacking the box, taking away what we do best."
He was quick to credit offensive coordinator Todd Galloway for making the proper in-game adjustments to allow the Gryphons to compete with Western in a shootout, something that most would not have thought possible.
The conversation with the coach moved from the possibility that Laurier is a 'trap game' and how the team's focus will be tested, to whether or not OUA consists of a legitimate 'Big Three' with McMaster, Western and Guelph. Lang was appreciative of his team being included with the other two programs.
"We're getting close," he hesitantly admitted. "We've won a lot of league games, the next level is to start winning Yates Cups."
He used the plural.
"We have to do well in the playoffs," the coach continued. "Until we win a shiny cup we're not at that level."
With the win over Western and the overtime loss to McMaster in Week One there is no question the Gryphons can beat either team. Lang is correct about one thing though; until they hoist one of those shiny trophies they'll be looked upon as being a notch below the others.
But now nobody will be shocked if this is the Gryphons year.
The O-zone: Here is the playoff scenario heading into the weekend.
1. McMaster: Has clinched first place and has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
2. Guelph: Has clinched second place since they've defeated both Western and Windsor, the only two teams that could tie them in the standings. There's no chance of a three-way tie for second since the Mustangs and Lancers play each other this week.
3. Western: Can clinch third place with a win over Windsor.
4. Windsor: Can clinch third place with a win over Western.
Here's where it gets interesting. Laurier, Ottawa and Carleton are all tied for the final two playoff spots. Since Ottawa and Laurier did not face each other during the regular season, the first tie breaker in play becomes the record among common opponents.
Those common opponents are Waterloo, McMaster, Toronto, Guelph and Windsor. Right now Carleton has a 3-2 record in those games, while Ottawa and Laurier are at 2-2. This week Ottawa plays McMaster while Laurier takes on Guelph.
If Ottawa and Laurier lose this week and Carleton wins, the Ravens would make the playoffs. Last week's win over Windsor was huge.
If Carleton, Laurier and Ottawa all win, they would each be 5-3, and there would be a 4-way tie, with the loser of Windsor/Western finishing 6th. If Windsor wins, Ottawa would finish 4th and Laurier would finish 5th. Carleton would be eliminated from the playoffs based on record against common opponents.
However, if Western wins, Laurier would finish 4th and Carleton would finish 5th. Ottawa would be eliminated from the playoffs as a result of their loss to Windsor.
If Ottawa, Laurier and Carleton all lose, the Ravens would advance with a 3-2 record in the games against common opponents, while Laurier and Ottawa would both be 2-3. Therefore, the tie-breaking system is refreshed. In this case, the Hawks and Gee-Gees games against York and Carleton would come into play.
In games against their seven common opponents, Laurier currently has a 4-2 record, while Ottawa is 3-3, so if both teams lose, the Hawks advance and the Gee-Gees would be eliminated.
Queen's, Toronto, York and Waterloo have all been eliminated from playoff contention.
For a complete breakdown of the possible playoff scenerios, click here.
Mike Hogan's opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ontario University Athletics.