Mason Nyhus knows Saturday’s Vanier Cup game will be his last wearing the green and white of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
Coming out as champion would be the perfect end to the fifth-year quarterback’s record-breaking career.
“That’s why you play the game – to win a Vanier Cup, to win a national championship,” Nyhus said. “It’s been our team’s goal every year since I’ve been here and in recent years we’ve been there. Obviously last year [when the Huskies lost in the Vanier Cup to the Western University Mustangs]we couldn’t do it.
“So being able to come out in my fifth year and with the Championship would really mean everything.”
To win the championship — their first since 1998 — the Huskies must in turn defeat the formidable Rouge et Or of Université Laval in London, Ont. (1 p.m. ET Saturday on CBC TV and CBCSports.ca). Both teams finished with 7-1 regular season records.
Laval is 4-1 against the Huskies, including Vanier Cup wins in 2004 and 2006.
The 2006 game was played in Saskatoon in freezing weather conditions, with Laval winning 13-8.
Nyhus, who broke the Huskies’ single-season assist record this season, comes into Saturday’s game in style.
He was named USport’s Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Huskies to a 36-19 win over the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in the Uteck Bowl last weekend.
Nyhus, who was named a second-team All-Canadian, completed 30 of 38 passes for 327 yards, including a pair of game-opening fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“There are things we are going to have to clean up before playing the Rouge et Or in the Vanier Cup, so certainly happy with the victory, but certainly not happy either,” he said.
The Huskies will rely on a powerful passing offense and solid ground game anchored by Ryker Frank and Ted Kubongo.
“It’s probably the biggest game I’ve played in my life,” said Kubongo, who came to the Huskies after playing with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. “I definitely had time to think about it and be like, ‘Okay, Ted, this is the biggest game of your life, but it’s just another football game at the end of the day. daytime.'”
Kubongo says the Huskies have a lot of playmakers who need to step in when they get the chance.
Laval and Saskatchewan have a lot in common, Huskies linebacker Nick Wiebe said.
“Both teams are really big on offense, both have strong running games, and then probably 1A and 1B at quarterback in the country,” Wiebe said. “Mason is our guy and we have the greatest confidence in him.
“[Laval QB Arnaud Desjardins] get the ball out in time and on target… I just think those two teams are pretty much mirror images of each other, honestly.
Playing in the Vanier Cup last year was invaluable, Wiebe said.
“It gave a lot of the guys in our program great experience that we might not have had in the big games otherwise.
“When you don’t have that kind of big game experience, you can often lose your mind and forget what you’ve been doing all year that got you there.”
“We have such a rich football tradition here,” Nyhus said. “There have been so many great players, great quarterbacks here at the University of Saskatchewan, guys like Brent Schneider, Steve Bilan, those kind of quarterbacks. It’s pretty cool.
He says he is happy to be thought of in this endeavor.
“[I’m] I just try to try to leave a good legacy and I think I did a good job and hopefully a national championship would help that too,” he said.