For the 16 busloads of McMaster students barreling down the 403 to the Vanier Cup Friday, a Marauder win was a sure thing.
“I'm not worried at all,” said McMaster University student Kayla Barroso. “I don't believe in underdogs.”
That's a bit of an ironic statement, considering McMaster came into last year's Vanier Cup game as the underdogs, but pulled out a dramatic win in double overtime.
Barroso says it's McMaster's immense school spirit that will no doubt help carry their team through the final game.
“I've been to other schools,” Barroso said. “I've been to Queens and Western football games, and it just pales in comparison.”
The game is projected to have a record attendance, with over 30,000 tickets having been sold.
“School pride is just through the roof,” said Jarret Muir, a second year civil engineering student at McMaster.
“We've got a championship to defend.”
With a win Friday, McMaster could become just the fourth school in the country to repeat as national champions.
Both teams got here with lopsided wins. Laval beat Acadia 42-7 to capture the Uteck Bowl on Saturday, while McMaster demolished the Calgary Dinos 45-6 for the Mitchell Bowl at Ron Joyce Stadium.
McMaster's potent offence is led by quarterback Kyle Quinlan. He was the OUA's most valuable player and set a conference record by completing 69 per cent of his passes for 2,457 yards while leading Canadian university football with 19 touchdowns against just two interceptions.
Many on the bus from Hamilton said that Quinlan is the best football player they've ever seen. He's had tryouts with both the Montreal Alouettes and the Hamilton Tiger Cats.
But most want to see him stay right at home.
“If he plays anywhere, I hope it's in Hamilton,” said McMaster Student Branden Lindley.
“That's where he belongs.”