The Saskatchewan Roughriders upset the defending West Division Champion Calgary Stampeders last weekend in the West Final and now will be facing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 101st Grey Cup, being played Nov. 24 in Regina on Saskatchewan's home turf in Mosaic Stadium.
The last time these two teams faced each other in the Grey Cup was 1989 when the Riders beat the Ti-Cats 43-40 on a last-second field goal to win their second CFL championship. Quarterback Kent Austin won the game MVP for Saskatchewan in what is widely considered to be one of the greatest games in Grey Cup history.
This time around, Austin is the head coach of the Tiger-Cats, so the man who was directly involved in two of Saskatchewan's three Grey Cup wins will be on the other side of the field. One might think that puts them at a disadvantage, but the fact is that the Roughriders will win this contest.
The Riders simply have too many weapons this year and, as a result, they will not be denied.
Quarterback Darian Durant finished the regular season third in total passing yards, with 4,154, while also tossing a league-leading 31 touchdowns.
Durant has a bunch of dangerous targets in Chris Getzlaf, Weston Dressler and Taj Smith. All three were over 1,000 yards in receiving, making them the most dangerous receiving unit in the CFL this year.
The running attack is just as dangerous with Kory Sheets leading the way. Sheets picked up 1,598 yards on the ground during the regular season; last weekend against the Stampeders he exploded for 177 yards on the ground plus a late-game touchdown.
The defense is equally strong. The Roughriders gave up a league-low 398 points against. Dwight Anderson tied for third in the league in interceptions with five and Alex Hall was second in the league in sacks with 16.
On the Hamilton side, Henry Burris led the CFL in yards passing with 4,925, but his top target, Bakari Grant, caught just 947 yards' worth of that total. Running back C.J. Gable had a better yards-per-carry average than Sheets (6.0 to 5.6), but far fewer carries and only 782 yards of rushing on the year.
Hamilton's defense gave up 70 more points than Saskatchewan's over the course of the season.
In category after category, the Riders are a better team on paper than the Ti-Cats. During the regular season, Saskatchewan handily beat Hamilton in consecutive weeks, shutting them out 37-0 in Week 4, then putting them away by a score of 32-20 in Week 5.
Add in the fact that the Riders will be playing in front of a loud and proud home audience, and it seems inevitable that they'll be hoisting the Grey Cup on Sunday evening.
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