Vancouver, BC - The Canada West 2015 football schedule was announced today, featuring the UBC Thunderbirds opening on the season on the road at the University of Calgary and culminating with the 79th Hardy Cup, slated for Saturday, November 14.
Blake Nill will lead the Thunderbirds into his old stomping grounds to kickoff the 2015 Canada West regular season on Friday September 4th. Nill previously steered the Dinos to six consecutive Canada West championships from 2008-13, before leaving the Dinos program last December and flying west to Vancouver. This season's schedule features the Thunderbirds playing Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Regina twice, while taking on Calgary and Regina just once.
Homecoming with be September 12th at 6:00 pm at Thunderbird Stadium when UBC hosts the Regina Rams in their first home game of the season.
Also on the opening day schedule is a rematch of last season's semifinal thriller between the Saskatchewan Huskies and defending champion Manitoba Bisons. This will be their first meeting since the Bisons upset the favoured Huskies in Saskatoon, 47-39, which was sealed with a direct-snap flea-flicker touchdown pass that has been seared in the memories of both programs over the offseason.
Completing the opening day showcase is a matchup between two up-and-coming squads in the Regina Rams and the Alberta Golden Bears. The game will be the first for the Rams since 1984 without Frank McCrystal, as the long-time Regina coach retired and will be succeeded by former CFL assistant coach Mike Gibson. The Golden Bears look to build on last year's promising season, when they turned heads by showing the biggest win-improvement in the conference and just barely missed the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.
The conference schedule continues to pick up on the following week, when the Calgary Dinos collide with the Manitoba Bisons in a rematch of last year's Hardy Cup finale.
Each team will play eight regular season games, with a bye for all schools on the October 9-11 Thanksgiving weekend to rest and prepare for the playoff drive.
The top four finishers qualify for the postseason, with first- and second-place teams hosting Canada West semifinals on the November 6-7 weekend.
The winners then advance to the 79th Hardy Cup Championship on Saturday, November 14.
The Canada West champion will represent the conference at the Uteck Bowl, a national semifinal hosted by the Atlantic University Sport champion on Saturday, November 21. The CIS Championship will be decided at the Vanier Cup in Laval on Saturday, November 28.
The 2015 Canada West football broadcast schedule will be announced later in June.