Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Herd facing formidable foe in Dinos

No. 2 Calgary stern test for No. 7 Bisons

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Brian DOBIE knew it was coming. And so he was prepared earlier this week when a friend -- perhaps concerned for the collective psyche of his University of Manitoba Bisons football squad -- asked him about this week's daunting opponent.

Yes, the Calgary Dinos, who mauled the Alberta Golden Bears 65-6 last week, have outscored their opponents 102-27 en route to a 2-0 record and a No. 2 ranking in the country, roll into town for today's annual Bison Homecoming Game at University Stadium.

These are the same Dinos who have captured the last four Canada West titles and won their last three here in Winnipeg and six consecutive against the Bisons.

Understandably, then, there is an air of invincibility that follows them and often swallows up their opponents before they even step onto the field.

"They're ranked No. 2 in the country and that's legit. I've been saying to people that (defending Vanier Cup champion) McMaster is 1A and they're 1B," said Dobie this week.

"But we're prepared. We've done our work. Now the bar gets raised. This is the third team we've played in three straight weeks that is a Top 10 team.

"We've got a long way to go. We're far from world beaters at this point, but we're a better team. And so, for us, this game is a real challenge.

"We want to see where we're at."

Where Dobie's Bisons are right now is a real good place, frankly. They are also 2-0 after wins over UBC and Saskatchewan, are ranked seventh nationally and, so far, have answered every question or unknown that may have swirled around them when the curtain raised on the season.

"It'll be good to climb into the ring against those guys," said veteran linebacker Thomas Hall. "And if I remember correctly, they're the only team to hold that (Canada West) belt since the Bisons last won it in '07.

"We want to get back in there as the challenger and show them we're at the top of our game right now. We've played very well against Calgary in spurts in the last two or three years, but couldn't finish. Now we need to close."

The Dinos-Bisons matchup is one of three Top-10 showdowns in the country this week -- No. 5 Western vs. No. 6 Queen's and No. 3 Laval against No. 8 Acadia are the others -- and Dobie & Co. feel good about the vibe that is building on the Fort Garry campus.

"It's been awhile... I can't remember when I was last this excited about a game," Dobie said. "It reminds me of (the dominant Bison teams of) '06 and '07. I'm not saying we're that team, but we're competitive and we're pushing. We know we're in the mix and now we're going to play against the best.

"Right now the confidence level is raised and everything that coaches preach suddenly becomes true. I remember in our Vanier run we would joke that we could tell them to do three somersaults and stand on their head in coverage and they would have done it. They bought into everything because they were seeing success on the field.

"Winning breeds that. And we're getting that feeling again."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 15, 2012 C7

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