Buckle up, layer up and strap in – the defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers now have an opponent for the Western Final. And now the fun really begins as the best rivalry in the Canadian Football League gets stoked up all over again.
Climbing into the ring next Sunday at IG Field against the Blue Bombers with a berth in the 108th Grey Cup on the line will be the Saskatchewan Roughriders after their 33-30 overtime win over the Calgary Stampeders in today’s Western Semi-final in Regina.
“I’m Ok with either one,” said safety Brandon Alexander after practice Sunday morning and before the Western Semi-Final result was known. “If it’s Saskatchewan, cool. If it’s Calgary, cool. At the end of the day, they’ve got to come here. So today it will be decided who we’re going to play here on the 5th and when they come in here I’m pretty sure our fans won’t mind either one of them. We have the privilege to be here on the 5th.”
The win by the Riders means these two clubs will meet in the Western Final for the second time in as many seasons after the Bombers won 20-13 at Mosaic Stadium in 2019 en route to capturing the Grey Cup. It will also be the first West Final between these two teams in Winnipeg since 1972 and a last-second 27-24 win by the Riders. Winnipeg holds a slight edge in its playoff history with the Saskatchewan/Regina Roughriders, with a 13-12-1 record in 26 playoff meetings, not including the Grey Cup.
“It’s going to be intense, it’s going to be loud, it’s going to be hostile,” Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo told TSN’s Sara Orlesky immediately after the Western Semi-Final win. “We learned a lot tonight. We’ve got to be better next week. They’re the best team in the CFL, we’ve got to go in there and try and take it from them.”
Here’s a Western Final tale of the tape:
BLUE BOMBERS VS. ROUGHRIDERS – THE MATCH-UP
Head-to-head: The Bombers swept the season series, 2-0, winning both the Labour Day Classic and the Banjo Bowl.
Game 1: September 5th – Labour Day Classic
Winnipeg 23 Saskatchewan 8
Location: Mosaic Stadium, Regina
A brief recap: The Bombers improved to 4-1 and, in the process, handed the Riders their first loss of the season as they fell to 3-1. Saskatchewan entered the game with the league’s highest-scoring offence at the time, having averaged 26.7 points, as the defence registered three sacks and forced five turnovers, including three interceptions. Zach Collaros threw for 245 yards, including a TD to Nic Demski, while Sean McGuire.
Game 2: September 11th – Banjo Bowl
Winnipeg 33 Saskatchewan 9
Location: IG Field, Winnipeg
A brief recap: The Bombers dominated at the line of scrimmage again, preventing the Riders from entering their end zone for the second straight game on the second straight weekend. The Bombers led 12-9 at halftime and then out-scored Saskatchewan 21-0 in the final 30 minutes. Collaros threw for 278 yards and two TDs, one to Darvin Adams and the other to Kenny Lawler, while Nic Demski finished with 134 yards. Sean McGuire scored three times, all on QB sneaks.
5 NOTABLE NUMBERS FROM BOMBERS VS. RIDERS
+6: The Bombers were plus-six in the season series in the turnover ratio, forcing with four interceptions, a fumble and three turnovers on downs while having an interception and a fumble of their own.
0: Touchdowns scored in the two games by the Riders.
37-0: The Bombers out-scored Saskatchewan by a combined 37-0 in the second half of their two games, 16-0 on Labour Day and 21-0 in the Banjo Bowl.
7: Sacks by the Bombers in the two games vs. the Riders, while surrendering two of their own. Getting to the QB for the Bombers over the two meetings were Willie Jefferson with three, with one each from Adam Bighill, Thiadric Hansen, Deatrick Nichols and Jackson Jeffcoat.
75.5: The combined completion percentage of Zach Collaros in two games vs. Saskatchewan this year, going 19-of-27 on Labour Day and 18-of-22 in the Banjo Bowl. He finished with 523 yards passing with three touchdowns against one interception.
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