Clash of the titans: CFL provides an early season must see match up

Clash of the titans: CFL provides an early season must see match up
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Clash of the titans: CFL provides an early season must see match up

We are only five weeks into the CFL season. But already clear patterns are emerging. Not least the dominance of the West Division. Which now holds an 11-1 advantage over the East. But even in the West there is a clear split too. Between the fast starters, the BC LionsCalgary Stampeders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the rest of the Division. The fast starters now stand at 3-0, 4-0 and 4-0 respectively.

Well this week something has to give. Especially as we get our first ‘clash of the titans’. A meeting between the BC Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers at BC Place.

This one sells itself. Two unbeaten teams. The two time defending champions travelling to face a team making their hottest start since 2007. Travelling with a wily veteran QB who has done nothing but deliver in Winnipeg, to face a team helmed by a young Canadian quarterback who has been tearing it up. Did we mention both teams’ have a solid D that makes an impact too?

Even this early on in the season this is an eagerly anticipated contest, and you can see why. We are all hoping for an instant classic.

Clash of the Titans: comparing the starts

As we have seen, the 3-0 Lions will be hosting the 4-0 Blue Bombers. But that’s just numbers. How have they looked in the games leading up to this point?

BC shot out of the traps with a 59-15 win at home to Edmonton. Followed by a 44-3 win at home to Toronto. Then their first away game of the season resulted in a 34-31 win away at Ottawa. So BC are averaging a remarkable 45 points a game.

Winnipeg meanwhile have looked less dominant. But they have repeatedly shown they know how to get the job done in a tight game. Their season started with back to back wins against Ottawa by respective scores of 19-17 and 19-12. That was followed by a 26-12 win over Hamilton and a 23-22 win over Toronto. They may be averaging a lower level of 22 points a game but the defending champs always seem to find a path to victory.

A look at the quarterbacks

At the heart of BC’s success is rookie QB Nathan Rourke. We first met him on this site as the two time winner of the Cornish Trophy when playing college ball for the Ohio Bobcats. Well he has made a heck of a start in the CFL. Voted unanimous performer of the month for June he completed 88 of 105 passes (83.8%) for 1,077 yards and nine touchdowns. Alongside 13 carries for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Rourke also set a pair of single-game records for Canadian quarterbacks: a completion percentage of 89.7 (26/29) in the week one victory over Edmonton and then threw for 436 yards in the week three win over Toronto.

In the blue corner the Blue Bombers have Zach Collaros. The reigning MOP. The former Cincinnati Bearcat has only tasted defeat twice at the helm in Winnipeg since arriving in 2019. In that time he has led the team to two Grey Cup wins. The first consecutive Grey Cup championships in Winnipeg since 1961-62.

This season he has gone 79 of 111 (71%) for 933 yards and 4 touchdowns. The stats don’t show it al though. His savvy veteran leadership has added an X factor for the Blue Bombers on their way to championship success.

A factor we shouldn’t overlook

BC are at home for this one. So far their home games have netted a 2-0 record and 103 points scored to 18 conceded. (An average score of 52-9).

The Lions have been pretty good at home then. But here’s what might be the biggest factor: travel and fatigue. Coming off a short turnaround Winnipeg have to travel to the West Coast and with BC having extra prep time, that might just be the difference.

One thing is for sure, if Winnipeg do win it will reinforce their position as the team to beat once again this season. If BC win it will really get people to take notice of them.

There is a lot riding on this for an early season game – which is fantastic for the fans of both teams and neutrals alike.

Another clash of the titans?

What would it take for the CFL to be providing another clash of the titans this season? Another eagerly awaited contest between two undefeated teams?

Well there are two roads that lead to that, and one is much more straightforward than the other.

If Winnipeg were to win they would go to 5-0. And next week they would be hosting the 4-0 Calgary Stampeders. So in back to back weeks we would have battles of the undefeated teams and at the end of it all only one undefeated team would be left standing.

However, if BC were to win it would be much harder to get to another battle of the undefeated teams. Because they and Calgary do not square off for the first time until week 10 of the season. At which point Calgary and BC would both need to be 7-0. It is doable, but there are plenty of pitfalls along the way before that could happen.

All of which is to say let’s enjoy the clear game of the season so far. Winnipeg at BC is a must see early season marquee matchup for CFL fans. So let’s enjoy seeing how it all plays out!

Banner Image: Nathan Rourke looks to lead the Leos to 4-0, image from agassizharrisonobserver.com

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