With the Labour Day Classics now in the books, the CFL schedule makes its midseason turn to the fall. The games get all the more important now leading up to the postseason, but there's just time enough to look back at the first half and award the midseason Most Outstanding Player.
It comes down to a three-horse race with two of those horses wearing the green of the first place Saskatchewan Roughriders, but ultimately Toronto Argonauts QB Ricky Ray deserves the most MOP consideration for his outstanding first half.
Ray and Roughriders QB Darian Durant have had similarly spectacular starts to the season but what gives Ray the edge is he isn't working with a potential record breaking running back in Kory Sheets (the other candidate for the midseason MOP), taking pressure off the pass game.
Ray has missed some time so far this season (and is expected to miss a lot more in the second half) but when he's on the field he's nearly automatic. His 78 percent completion rate is 10 points higher than any other QB in the league and his 15 touchdowns to zero interceptions is almost unheard of.
The 33-year-old continues to deliver even with teams keying on the Double Blue's passing game. Ray has been without his top RB Chad Kackert for most of the season and Toronto's ground game has produced just 718 yards combined on the season, just more than 60 percent of Sheets' total alone.
Durant's stat line (21 touchdowns to one interception) is just as breathtaking as Ray's; what Sheets has done in the first half is historic (and we all know how much the league loves record breakers); and the Riders league leading 8-1 record all made the decision anything but easy, but Ray and the Argos' passing game has led the team to an East leading 5-4 record with little to no help on the ground. You could argue Durant and Sheets are splitting votes at the time.
Durant and Sheets will have plenty of time to catch up by season's end, and with Ray out for up to the next five weeks now the award is all but guaranteed to go to someone else when the votes count, but for now Ray's incredible renaissance in the Big Smoke continues.
Fringe candidates to keep an eye on in the second half of the season include last year's winner Chad Owens and last year's runner-up Jon Cornish, and the league's passing leader Henry Burris. And if the award could be shared among teammates, the Calgary Stampeders' trio at quarterback would deserve consideration as well.
The Rouge asks: Who is your midseason Most Outstanding Player? You've heard what we've had to say, now it's your turn.
As always, it's Your! Call.