Both Teams look to end a championship drought, but don’t underestimate the underdogs.
Mike O’Shea (Grey Hoodie – Center) and the Blue Bombers celebrating the Western Division Final Victory
By: Quinn MacDonald
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have a chance to end their 29-year championship drought in the 107th Grey Cup. Winnipeg heads to McMahon Stadium in Calgary to take on the Hamilton Tiger Cats; It’ll be the first time since 1984 that these two franchises face off for the title.
Hamilton posted a league best 15-3 record, ending the regular season on a 6 game win streak. Winnipeg finished 11-7 with the second most points for with 508 points.
The Blue Bombers are the first third-place team since 2005 to win consecutive road playoff games to advance to the Grey Cup.
When the Blue Bombers won it last, the average cost of bread was 70 cents and the price of a house was around a $120,000. But one thing has remained constant throughout the years, one very dedicated Winnipegger, John Couture.
Couture has been at every Grey Cup for the last 46 years. He was in Vancouver when Winnipeg last won it all in 1990 and will bring along his same good luck charm; an old megaphone from the 1990 Grey Cup.
Couture said you’ll see me at “Portage and Main, trying to do a cartwheel with my megaphone.”
The Blue Bombers won’t need luck to walk away as CFL Champions. Here’s three reasons why.
The Collaros Impact
Zach Collaros has had a roller coaster of a year, being traded twice this season. He’s only played in 2 games for the Blue Bombers, throwing a total of 221 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Collaros has only been a member of the Blue Bombers for 49 days, becoming more and more familiar with his teammates, coaching staff, and play calling on a day-to-day basis.
Although the stats are nothing stellar, the Blue Bombers came out victorious against the Stampeders and Roughriders with Collaros at the helm during the playoffs.
Collaros is a quarterback that’s struggled with injuries and consistency over the last few seasons, but hopes to settle down in Winnipeg.
He will be out for revenge against the Tiger Cats, after losing his only Grey Cup start back in 2014 when Collaros was a member of the Ti-Cats. He threw for an impressive 342 yards and a touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to take down the Calgary Stampeders.
The Run Game
Andrew Harris, the 32-year-old Winnipeg native, sat out two games this year with a suspension after testing positive for an anabolic steroid. That didn’t stop him from leading the CFL in rushing yards for the third straight year. He rushed for 1,380 yards with 4 touchdowns and also hauled in 4 receiving touchdowns.
Hamilton kept Harris quite in their two matchups this season, limiting him to just 90 rushing yards, but don’t count Harris out when the pressure is on.
Take a look at the 2011 Grey Cup, Harris broke out for 65 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown, leading the BC Lions to victory over the Blue Bombers. Harris was ultimately named the Most Outstanding Canadian following his impressive 99th Grey Cup performance.
The Bombers D
Winnipeg already had an impressive defensive core with the likes of linebacker Adam Bighill (2018 Most Outstanding Defensive Player) and defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.
The Blue Bombers became a much tougher team to face after they signed defensive linemen, Wille Jefferson in the offseason.
Jefferson has been solid for the Blue Bombers making them a much tougher opponent to face. The 28-year old was third in the CFL with 12 sacks this season and led the league with six forced fumbles.
The defensive unit has been fantastic as a whole; The Blue Bombers had 24 interceptions – second in the CFL – and 48 sacks (4th best)
Winnipeg’s defense was on full display against the Calgary Stampeders in the Western Division Final. They held Bo Levi Mitchell to just 12 completions on 28 attempts and picked him off three times.
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