What to know for this weekend’s CFL and U Sports football playoffs

0 0

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

The matchups for the 109th Grey Cup and the university national semifinals will all be decided this weekend. Here’s what to know about the CFL and U Sports playoffs:

CFL: It’s the MOP vs. the might-have-been MOP

Nathan Rourke coulda been a contender. Through nine games of his first season as a pro starter, the 24-year-old led the CFL in every major passing category and had propelled the B.C. Lions to an 8-1 record. He was the frontrunner to become the first Canadian to win the Most Outstanding Player award since Jon Cornish in 2013. Then a serious foot injury derailed Rourke’s rise and sidelined him for B.C.’s final nine regular-season games, save for a cameo in the finale at Winnipeg.

Rourke returned to the starter’s role for last week’s playoff game vs. Calgary and threw for an impressive 321 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-16 home win. But the foot still appears bothersome, and now Rourke must go on the road — not to mention outdoors, in cold weather, in front of a hostile crowd — to face the league’s toughest defence as B.C. visits Winnipeg for the West Division final on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

This game is being billed as the quarterback of the future vs. the quarterback of the moment, as Blue Bombers veteran Zach Collaros is favoured to win his second consecutive Most Outstanding Player award. The 34-year-old finished with more than 4,000 yards passing for the first time, threw a CFL-high 37 touchdown passes and steered Winnipeg to a league-best 15-3 record and a first-round bye.

Collaros and the Bombers are four-point favourites over the Lions and are also favoured to win their third straight Grey Cup. No CFL team has three-peated since Edmonton won five in a row from 1978-82.

The winner of the Winnipeg-B.C. matchup will play for the Grey Cup next week in Regina against the winner of the East final between Montreal and Toronto on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

The host Argonauts are favoured by a field goal after winning their relatively weak division with a 11-7 record to earn a first-round bye. Toronto’s so-so offence could get a boost from the return of Canadian running back Andrew Harris. The 2019 Grey Cup MVP (with Winnipeg) is set to play for the first time since tearing a pectoral muscle in August. The Argos’ ball-hawking defence will look to keep creating turnovers after leading the CFL with 48 takeaways, including Jamal Peters’ league-high six interceptions.

Peters and company will try to contain star Montreal receiver Eugene Lewis, who won the East’s nomination for Most Outstanding Player after piling up 1,303 yards receiving and catching 10 touchdowns. He added seven grabs for 98 yards in last week’s 28-17 playoff win over Hamilton. With the victory, Montreal improved to 8-3 since a brutal 2-6 start to the season that saw Trevor Harris take over at quarterback for the benched Vernon Adams Jr., and Danny Maciocia replace the fired Khari Jones as head coach.

U Sports: Can anyone stop Western?

A victory in one of Saturday’s four Canadian university conference finals puts a team a win away from reaching the 57th Vanier Cup. That game will take place Nov. 26 on the Western campus, and right now the London, Ont., school looks like a good bet to be playing for a national championship repeat in its own backyard.

Powered by a rushing attack that averaged 292 yards per game and 8.2 yards per carry, the No. 1-ranked Mustangs went 8-0 in the regular season while outscoring their opponents by an average of more than 30 points. In its first playoff game last week, Western rolled to a 45-9 win over Laurier as national rushing leader Keon Edwards ran for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Western’s opponent in the Yates Cup Ontario championship game is No. 3-ranked Queen’s, which went 7-1 in the regular season before easy playoff wins over Toronto and Ottawa. Watch the Yates Cup live Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

The Yates Cup winner advances to next week’s Mitchell Bowl national semifinal, where it will face the winner of Saturday’s Dunsmore Cup Quebec title game between No. 2 Laval and No. 5 Montreal. The winners of Saturday’s Atlantic championship (No. 6 St. FX vs. No. 10 Mount Allison in the Loney Bowl) and West championship (No. 4 Saskatchewan vs. No. 9 UBC in the Hardy Cup) meet in the Uteck Bowl national semifinal next week.

With the Vanier Cup just two weeks away, CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo revisits the classic 1993 game for the latest episode of his excellent Unknown History series. Eleven months after the University of Toronto dropped its storied football program, the Varsity Blues — rescued by alumni donations — pulled off a sports-movie ending by beating Calgary in a thriller at SkyDome that came down to the final play. Get the whole story by watching the video here.

Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.