The University of Calgary Dinos football club is no longer undefeated.
But the Vanier Cup hopefuls have yet to lose, on the field at least, in 2014.
The team entered the week of Oct. 25 with a 5-1 record, after beating the Golden Bears of the University of Alberta 52-37, in Edmonton.
But the Dinos’ quest for a perfect season and a straight run to the national championship was undone by a paperwork error which came to light in late September.
The Dinos opened their season by trashing the Bears 71-3 at McMahon Stadium.
But they subsequently forfeited the game due to a roster error, involving two academically ineligible players.
Dinos’ staff first noticed the error, after an internal check within the football program. They immediately reported it to Canadian Interuniversity Sport and Canada West and were consequently sanctioned.
While the loss was a setback for the team, players have taken it in stride, according to head coach Blake Nill.
“This group hasn’t suffered a lot of difficulties, other than a Vanier Cup loss or whatever,” Nill said in an interview.
“These kids have had so much success, you have to continue to keep them grounded and it’s a challenge for us.”
While the loss has the potential to derail the Dinos’ drive to win a national title, it didn’t stop them winning games against Manitoba, Regina and the Bears again.
The Sept.26 victory, a 42-41 nail biter over the Manitoba Bisons at McMahon Stadium, had the players and coaches smiling.
But their focus remains the Vanier Cup and a chance to defeat their nemesis, the Laval Rouge.
“You always hear about them [Laval] and you know that they’re still winning,” said Dinos quarterback Andrew Buckley.
“They’re always just sitting in the back of your mind.”
Laval recently broke the CIS all-time record for consecutive victories (22) in a 70-3 pounding of the McGill University Redmen.
Laval has won seven out of the last 11 Vanier Cups, including consecutive wins over Calgary the past two years, and is undoubtedly the cream of the crop in Canadian University football.
“We know at some point we’re probably going to have to go through Laval to get to the cup,” said Buckley.
”A lot of us really want to go back to Laval, as a redemption game. Everyone wants to take out Laval…so it’d be a shame if we didn’t get that chance.”
Nill also wants to get back to the Vanier Cup.
“I don’t coach to be .500. I want to be at the top,” said Nill.
“My desire is always to get back to the National Championship. That’s why I coach and I know at some point we’ll get there.”
The Dinos fell short 25-15 to Laval in last year’s Vanier Cup. Buckley went 19-for-29 and threw for 247 yards in the losing cause.
“That was hands down the best experience of my life. Every part of me wants to repeat that,” said Buckley.
“There’s so much drive because it’s such a show and everyone wants to be at the show.”
The Dino’s full schedule can be found can be found at the U of C Dino’s Website.