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Your! Call: Who will win the Western Final?

Isaac Owusu, TSN.ca

11/17/2013 9:36:29 AM

In the last two Grey Cups one of the two teams was also the event's host, and that team came out victorious in both contests.

Can the Saskatchewan Roughriders be the third consecutive team to play for the Championship in their own stadium, or will the Calgary Stampeders punch a ticket to their second straight Grey Cup?

The Stamps won all but one of their contests at home in McMahon Stadium (a Week 13 loss to the Toronto Argonauts). In their three matchups against the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Calgary won both of their home games. As challenging as it may seem, can the Riders overcome the odds and pull off the road upset?

To win this game on the road Saskatchewan must limit the opportunities of Jon Cornish, the Western Division nominee for the CFL's Most Outstanding Player for the second time in as many years. The Riders need to dominate the ball-control game. They come to battle with a quality ground game of their own with Kory Sheets who comes into the game with as many 100-yard games as Cornish (12) impressive, considering that he played in two less games. Sheets (1598) finished second to Cornish (1813) in regular season rushing yardage.

Saskatchewan displayed an efficient running performance last Sunday against the B.C. Lions, with the bulk of the team rushing yards (170) coming from quarterback Darian Durant (97). His effort included scampering for a clutch 35-yard run in the fourth quarter that brought the team into scoring range and converted into a 10-yard touchdown pass to Weston Dressler two plays later.

A dual-threat at quarterback, Durant can not only pick apart a defence through the air (4,154 yards) but he also gained 369 yards on 8.8 yards per rush this season. Along with Sheets, who totaled 133 yards on 26 carries in Saskatchewan's lone victory over Calgary (Week 2, 36-21), the pairing should be able to chew up yards and keep the clock moving.

This strategy can keep Cornish on the sideline and away from producing evident from his 42 yards on eight carries in that Week 2 game.
That task is easier said than done however.

For Cornish, playing in front of the Calgary faithful has been somewhat of a motivating tool in his last three home appearances, gaining a total 447 yards, including a bruising 109 against the Riders in the Week 18's thrilling 29-25 victory.

Coming off a week's rest Can Cornish keep up the solid work?

The quarterback situation in Calgary has been somewhat adverse with Kevin Glenn, Bo Levi Mitchell, and Drew Tate all doing quality jobs with their opportunities, but like last season's playoff run Glenn will start and look to play well enough to keep the young promising pivots Tate and/or Mitchell on the sideline.

Calgary's key is to allow Cornish to take the pressure off of the passers, who will be without standout receiver Marquay McDaniel, who they lost to an ankle injury. It is unknown if Stamps star receiver Nik Lewis will play, but he surprised many by returning to practice on Thursday.

In the case that the Stamps are without Lewis, Joe West, Brad Sinopoli and Maurice Price could be expected return from injuries, joining Jeff Fuller, the team's late sensation and Jabari Arthur providing the interesting passing platoon a few more able pairs of mitts.

If the Argos and Lions have proved anything in 2011 and 2012, it's that one shouldn't bet against a team playing before their fans in the Grey Cup. It's the getting there however that will be the biggest challenge for Rider Nation to sit through in 2013.

Who is going to win the Western Division Final to get to the 101st Grey Cup? Can Calgary make it there for their second time in a row, or can Saskatchewan continue the hometown championship trend?

As always, It's Your! Call.