OTTAWA (CIS) – For the first time in team history, the McMaster Marauders open the CIS football season atop the national ranking.

Nine months after capturing their first-ever Vanier Cup title with a thrilling 41-38 overtime win over the Laval Rouge et Or, the Marauders received 25 of 30 first-place votes from the Football Reporters of Canada panel to lead the inaugural poll of 2012 with 294 points.

Laval (4) and the Calgary Dinos (1) also merited first-place consideration from FRC voters, and open the campaign at No. 2 and No. 3 with 257 and 246 points, respectively.

Rounding out the first Top 10 are the No. 4 Montreal Carabins (180 points), No. 5 Western Mustangs (142), No. 6 Queen’s Gaels (121), No. 7 UBC Thunderbirds (100), No. 8 Saskatchewan Huskies (81), No. 9 Acadia Axemen (51) and No. 10 Windsor Lancers (50).

McMaster and Laval renewed their rivalry on Sunday in Quebec City, with the Rouge et Or exacting a measure of revenge with a 28-22 pre-season victory in front of 9,991 hometown fans. The two teams had also met in the 2011 pre-season, with Laval prevailing 24-10.

Other exhibition results from the past weekend included Guelph 26, Saskatchewan 21 (at Saskatchewan); Manitoba 29, Regina 13 (at Regina); Montreal 29, Windsor 10 (at Montreal); Concordia 31, Toronto 24 (at Concordia); Bishop’s 35, York 2 (at Bishop’s); Menlo College (NAIA) 28, UBC 13 (at UBC); Queen’s 23, McGill 9 (at Queen’s).

The Marauders officially kick off their Vanier Cup defence with a home tilt against Guelph on Labour Day (Sept. 3), part of an 11-game opening weekend in the OUA, RSEQ and Canada West conferences. The AUS regular schedule starts on Sept. 7.

The No. 2 Rouge et Or, who have claimed a CIS-record nine straight conference banners since 2003, open league play at home against McGill on Sunday. The No. 3 Dinos, looking for an unprecedented fifth consecutive Canada West crown, host Regina on Saturday.

A total of 123 conference and playoff games will be played across the country over the next three months, culminating with the 48th Vanier Cup final on November 23rd at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

NOTES: Team previews of all 26 CIS football programs, profiles of 26 star players, as well as CIS football records going into the 2012 season are available at… Information on the 48th Vanier Cup (including ticket info) can be found at… The CIS football players of the week – also selected by a panel of FRC members – will be announced each Wednesday, starting on Sept. 5.