Saskatchewan Roughriders (11-7) at Calgary Stampeders (14-4)
Sunday, November 17 at 4pm et/1pm pt on TSN
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|Consensus top two teams; consensus top two running backs battle with Grey Cup trip on the line.
The Western Final is a matchup of two teams that split time this year as the consensus top team in the league.
The first half of the regular season belonged to the Saskatchewan Roughriders with running back Kory Sheets performing at a record-breaking pace and QB Darian Durant playing at a Most Outstanding Player level.
But just behind the Roughriders all that time were Jon Cornish and the Calgary Stampeders. And when Sheets went down to injury and Durant came back to Earth, the Stamps took over as “team to beat” for the rest of the regular season.
While Sheets stole all the headlines with his terrific season on the ground this year, the Roughriders had another player in the backfield deserving of Most Outstanding Player consideration in Darian Durant. The veteran quarterback followed his sterling first half with an inconsistent second but still finished with one of the better seasons at the position in the league. Durant finished second in passing yards behind Hamilton’s Henry Burris but his 31 touchdown passes were seven more than any other QB in the CFL. If the Roughriders can survive McMahon Stadium, they'll be right back home for the Grey Cup next week.
While they haven’t yet stated it publicly – and may never do so – Kevin Glenn has emerged as the top dog for the Calgary Stampeders. The veteran quarterback led Calgary in passing this season with 2,710 yards and 18 touchdowns, seeing action in 14 of the team’s 18 regular season games. Both Drew Tate, the presumptive starter heading into the year, and Bo Levi Mitchell showed ability in stints throughout the regular season as well and if nothing else offer incredible insurance for the Stamps at the position.
The individual matchup everybody wants to see is of course Sheets vs. Cornish. The rivalry between the two running backs was good even before Sheets claimed publicly he was the better of the two backs.
Even taking into account Sheets’ knee injury midway through the season the numbers favoured Cornish. The New Westminster, BC product led the league in rushing with 1,813 yards, 215 yards more than Sheets on 29 fewer carries. While they finished with an identical 12 rushing touchdowns on the year, Cornish’s two receiving touchdowns gave him the advantage in scores as well.
While Cornish had the edge in the regular season competition between the two, the post-season battle is still up for grabs.
The Roughriders got a bump on Friday when they announced that slotback Chris Getzlaf will play on Sunday. He missed two games with a knee injury and the team called it a "miracle" that he will be able to take the field against the Stampeders.
It was clear from their three meetings this year that these two teams don’t like each other, setting up perhaps the best Western Final fans could have hoped for this year.
This Week1Last Week1Calgary Stampeders14-4
The Stampeders gave Jon Cornish just four carries in the team’s regular season finale against the BC Lions (14 yards) but the Most Outstanding Player award was locked up by the New Westminster, BC native weeks ago. Cornish will have another week – the first round bye – to rest up and make a Grey Cup push with Calgary.
This Week2Last Week2Saskatchewan Roughriders11-6
The road to the 101st Grey Cup in Regina starts for the Roughriders at home against the Lions. Saskatchewan will certainly be considered a top contender for the Grey Cup this post-season and their home field advantage will no doubt help. If they get by BC they will have to travel to Calgary however before coming back home.
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