On Sunday afternoon in Lévis, across the river from Quebec City, I had the pleasure of attending a spring football game between Alfred University (NCAA Division 3) and Cégep de Lévis-Lauzon (Cégep Division 1). The Alfred University players were probably mostly 18 to 22 years of age, while the Lévis-Lauzon players were mostly aged 17 to 19. The game was played under Cégep rules, which means Canadian rules but with 4 downs and no neutral zone between the offensive and defensive lines.
On the day Alfred University was the better team, as evidenced by the final score, which was 40-19 in favour of the Americans. However, the game was not a blow-out, the NCAA team was not dominant, and Lévis-Lauzon was able to move the ball quite well at times on offense and made quite a few big plays on defense. For Lévis-Lauzon, the player of the game was LB Jean-Philippe Lévesque, with 16 solo tackles, 7 assisted tackles, 2 tackles for loss and 1 fumble recovery.
To me it is pretty clear that if a Cégep team can hold its own against an NCAA Division 3 team, even one of the weaker CIS teams would win by a wide margin, and a top CIS team like Montréal or McMaster would be completely dominant.
All of this reinforces my belief that generally speaking, the calibre of CIS football is roughy equivalent to NCAA Division 2. Hopefully at some point, there will be pre-season games between CIS teams and NCAA Division 2 teams.