The quest for the 109th Yates Cup begins on Sunday, Aug. 28 with a full slate of games, including the Guelph Gryphons beginning their Yates Cup title defence at home against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. The Gryphons snapped a 19-year drought last season with a 23-17 victory over the previously unbeaten Mustangs in London, Ont. at TD Stadium.
After the aforementioned heartbreak at the hands of the Gryphons a season ago, the Western Mustangs will look to once again return to the top of the conference in 2016. For the second straight season, the Mustangs will open the year against the rival Windsor Lancers.
Fans will look to another opening weekend matchup to reveal a lot about their teams as the Carleton Ravens travel to the "Steel City" to take on perennial contenders, the McMaster Marauders. In just their third season back in the league, the Ravens not only qualified for the postseason but also knocked off the Queen's Gaels in the final game at old Richardson Stadium to advance to the semifinals.
The action heats up on Labour Day weekend with a full schedule of games, including Western travelling to the nation's capital to take on Carleton. London native Nate Behar will hope to lead his Ravens past the team he grew up cheering for when the Mustangs stampede into MNP Park on Sunday, Sept. 4.
On Labour Day, another chapter in the historic Hamilton-Toronto football rivalry will be written with the WeatherTech Football Day in Hamilton double-header. At noon, the hometown McMaster Marauders will welcome the visiting University of Toronto Varsity Blues to Tim Hortons Field for an afternoon tilt before the Tiger-Cats and Argonauts renew hostilities in the Hammer.
Frosh week will be in full swing on campuses across the province on Saturday, Sept. 10 when the Queen's Gaels travel to Alumni Stadium in Guelph, Ont. to take on the Gryphons. Guelph will be looking to avenge last season's 23-15 loss at the hands of the Gaels which was their only blemish on an otherwise perfect OUA season.
After a three-week road trip to open the season, the Gaels will be looking forward to returning home in Week 4 as they open a revitalized Richardson Stadium against the rival Western Mustangs on Saturday, Sept. 17. Since 1929, the two teams have faced each other 91 times with the Gaels holding a slight advantage with a record of 45-44-2 all-time against the Mustangs.
Meanwhile in Toronto at Varsity Stadium, bragging rights to the '6 will be on the line as the Varsity Blues host a young York Lions team hungry for a Red and Blue Bowl victory.
Fans of OUA football will surely have Saturday, Sept. 24 circled on their calendars as the Mustangs will head to Guelph, Ont. to take on the Gryphons in a rematch of the 108th Yates Cup. In Waterloo, Ont., the next installment of the "Battle of Waterloo" rages on when the Warriors travel across town to take on the rival Laurier Golden Hawks.
Pedro the Panda will up for grabs once again on Saturday, Oct. 1 as the Ottawa Gee-Gees battle the Carleton Ravens in the Panda Game at TD Place in downtown Ottawa. The Gee-Gees will look to reclaim the title once again after Carleton stunned Ottawa with back-to-back last minute heroics courtesy of Nate Behar's heroic "hail Mary" catch in 2014 and the right boot of Michael Domagala in double OT last year.
In Hamilton, Ont., the Hwy 6 showdown between Guelph and McMaster returns to Ron Joyce Stadium with the Marauders looking to avenge their 33-23 loss last season at the Gryphons Homecoming. The Marauders and Gryphons are the past two teams to hoist the historic Yates Cup and with a big Week 6 showdown looming, the victor will likely take a big step forward to securing a potential postseason berth.
The October air might be cooler, but the action will be heating up in Week 7 as Laurier will host the University of Toronto Varsity Blues under the lights for a Thursday, Oct. 6 tilt at Varsity Stadium in Waterloo, Ont. The two teams have not faced each other since the 2014 season opener when former Golden Hawks running back and OUA MVP Dillon Campbell exploded for 293 yards and two touchdowns in the Golden Hawks 53-17 win.
The following night, Ottawa and Carleton will host York and Windsor, respectively, in the nation's capital, while in Hamilton, McMaster will face off against Queen's.
Regular season play concludes on Oct. 22, with teams fighting for postseason positioning, including a marquee matchup when McMaster travels to London, Ont. to face Western with a potential first round playoff bye on the line. This is the second consecutive season the two teams will meet in the final week of the regular season. Last year, the Mustangs stampeded to a 46-24 win over the Marauders at Ron Joyce Stadium.
The top six teams following the regular season will qualify for the playoffs with the top two seeds receiving a bye through the quarter-finals and will host the semifinals. The OUA quarter-finals will take place on Saturday, Oct. 29, followed by the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 5.
The "Quest for the Cup" concludes on Saturday, Nov. 12 with the 109th Yates Cup, hosted by the highest remaining seed following the semifinals.
This season, the winner of the Yates Cup will represent OUA in the CIS Uteck Bowl, where they will travel to Quebec to take on the RSEQ conference champion the following week with a trip to the Vanier Cup on the line.
The 2016 ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup will take place on Nov. 26 in Hamilton at Tim Hortons Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET. Fans who are unable to attend in person can catch the game live nationally on Sportsnet and TVA Sports, the official broadcasters of CIS.
Tickets for the 2016 ArcelorMittal Dofasco Vanier Cup are now available at www.vaniercup.com.
It's going to be another great season of OUA football, so be sure to plan your road trips and remember that every game will be broadcast live on OUA.tv!