It’s Grey Cup time!
It’s time for the 106th Grey Cup. No more talking. No more prognosticating. It’s time to settle it on the field. Coverage starts at 11 pm (UK time) as the Calgary Stampeders and the Ottawa REDBLACKS meet at The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium Edmonton.
This one should look and feel different to last years game. The snow came down thick and fast in 2017. This year however the forecast is for a high of zero Celsius and a not bad for Canada in November minus-1C for kickoff. It will be mainly sunny with light winds and a 10-per-cent chance of precipitation. So no repeat of the ‘snow-globe’ game but hopefully a great encounter regardless.
For the third year in a row the Stamps will enter the season finale as the favoured team. This time they’ll be hoping for a different outcome. Either it will be third time lucky for the Stamps and their fans. Or the young REDBLACKS franchise will have its second CFL championship in three years.
The ”big stage’ shouldn’t be a problem in this one. Both Ottawa and Calgary have reached the big game in three of their last four seasons.
A Pivotal Question
There’s the old adage in american football that offence wins games and defense wins championships. It might still be true. Alternatively we could be looking back on this game and talking about amazing running back play or how special teams won it. I have a feeling it’s going to come down to the men under centre. If you really want to win it all your quarterback needs to perform and I believe that really could be the key in this game.
Bo Levi Mitchell
For the Ottawa D, the challenge will be to stop two time and newly minted CFL MOP Bo Levi Mitchell in his tracks. Mitchell and the Stamps like to go deep. In fact they throw the ball long more than any other team in the CFL. The Stamps’ offence leads the league with 43 completions of 30-plus yards. It’s going to be a test for the REDBLACKS defensive backfield.
Mitchell has averaged 366 passing yards per game in his three Grey Cup starts to date. Now that he has his second MOP he’ll want to even his Grey Cup record to 2-2 and leave a defining legacy before possibly testing the NFL waters.
Mitchell was working with a patched up receiving corps coming into the final run of the regular season. The Stamps though look pretty solid at this position now it matters most.
On the other side of the field Ottawa fans will be hoping to see the Trevor Harris of recent vintage. The REDBLACKS fast passing attack has been hugely successful over the last two months. The up-tempo pace has allowed them to run the most offensive plays per game in the league (61.2 per game).
In his last seven outings Harris has been phenomenal. Including last week’s playoff record six-touchdown performance, Harris has completed 78.6 per cent of his passes and thrown 17 touchdown passes and just two interceptions, averaging 9.9 yards per attempt over this period.
Of course Harris hasn’t come up against the Stamps D in that time. Earlier this season they held him to just 4.5 yards per attempt, no touchdowns and three interceptions in the two match-ups between the two.
Harris has arguably the best receiving corps in the league the throw to, with options all over the field. REDBLACKS fans will be hoping that they are in such a rhythm now that even the Stamps vaunted D cannot slow them down.
Hoping for a great game
This will mark the second Grey Cup meeting between these teams in three years. In 2016, the 8-9-1 Redblacks earned a stunning 39-36 upset win in overtime against 15-2-1 Calgary in Toronto.
This year whilst the 14-5 Stamps are favoured against the 12-7 REDBLACKS they aren’t as heavily favoured. Which team will walk away with the trophy remains to be seen. As a fan of the game what you hope for most is a great game. In that respect the CFL has often delivered. Nine of the last eleven, (and 14 of the last 18), Grey Cup games have been decided in the last three minutes of play. It would be great to see that happen again.
I’m picking the Stamps to break their jinx this year. But then again in the preseason I was picking the Argos and the Esks to be contesting this game. So feel free to disagree!
If you are watching the game in the UK then BT Sport/EPSN has coverage scheduled to start from 11 PM. So you will be able to see live action from the 106th Grey Cup as the Canadian Football League season comes to a conclusion at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
Here’s hoping we get anything as entertaining as last years ‘Snow-globe game’ or a rematch between these two as good as the 2016 edition!
Banner image from cfl.ca