101st Grey Cup Preview

101_GCThe 101st Grey Cup may not have the history behind it that the 100th Grey Cup did but there are plenty of great stories before the game begins. The 100th Grey Cup was all about the long and storied history of the CFL but for the 101st Grey Cup the stories would come from the teams themselves. Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will bring plenty to talk about when they face off in Regina this weekend. That is exactly where you can start the story of the 101st Grey Cup as Regina hosts the championship for the first time since 2003 and Rider Nation is ready for the show. Saskatchewan Roughriders have some of the most loyal and craziest fans in the CFL and everyone will get to see it in the biggest game of the year. Add the rabid fan base to the fact that they will be watching their team in the finals and the game becomes that much more important for Regina. With the Riders in the Grey Cup they are looking to become the third straight team to win the Grey Cup at home in the last three years. It is a strange trend that has never been seen before with the last team winning at home before 2011 was in 1994. The Riders are looking to continue the trend this year in front of their home crowd but there are a few familiar faces that will be looking to spoil the party. Hamilton QB Henry Burris played in Regina for three years while Hamilton Wide Receiver Andy Fantuz was the superstar of the Canadian Air Force receiving corps in Regina from 2006-2011. It doesn’t end there as Hamilton Head Coach Kent Austin won two Grey cups in Regina, once as their starting QB and once as their head coach. The green ties run deep for the Tiger-Cats but they are all looking to make the party in Regina a little less exciting. The party in Regina may be a little less exciting for everyone when they see the weather report as well with temperatures reaching dangerous temperatures and some players actually suffering minor frost bite after practice. The 101st Grey Cup has plenty to talk about this year but like every game one story will always dominate. That is the story of two teams looking to get bragging rights for the next year as the best team in the CFL. It is all about two teams looking to be the best team in the CFL and in the end that will be the story that everyone talks about when all is said and done. The Riders and the Tabies will go all out to get that title and become the 101st Grey Cup Champions with plenty of motivation on both sides of the field.

 

Saskatchewan Roughriders

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders are happy to be home in November and not sitting at home without a game to play. The Riders have had an up and down season this year as they would begin the year with a quick reinforcement. The Riders would take a page out of the book of the Toronto Argonauts this year when they would use the offseason to pad their roster. The Toronto Argonauts would bring in Ricky Ray, Ricky Foley, Jason Barnes, and plenty more as they would try to ensure their spot in the 100th Grey Cup at the Rogers Centre. They would achieve their goal and would show that adding some key pieces in the right year was a legitimate way of trying to win the Grey Cup. The Riders would do the same this year when they would bring in Geroy Simon, John Chick, and Ricky Foley in the year that they would host the Grey Cup as the Riders were hoping to play at home in late November. The strategy would end up working immediately as they would win 8 of their first 9 games to start the season. The Riders looked almost unbeatable and were on their way to a first place and almost sure spot in the Grey Cup. Then the Riders would see a 4 game losing streak in which they looked like a shell of their former selves. Then the Riders would come back and finish the season on a much more reasonable pace winning 3 of their last 5 games of the season. The Riders now go into the Grey Cup with two convincing wins in the playoffs and their hometown fans behind them.

The Riders have had one thing that has carried them further than any other team in the West this year as they have the best line in the CFL. The defensive and offensive line of the Riders is the best in the league as they have been able to carry the team to the Grey Cup this year. The Offensive line has been able to provide plenty of protection for Darian Durant while opening up big holes for Kory Sheets and being a big part of the 1,598 rushing yards that Sheets was able to put up. Meanwhile on the defensive side of the ball the addition of Ricky Foley and John Chick along with the later addition of Alex Hall has made the Riders a great pressure team. The offence starts with the protection and the defence begins with the pressure and the Riders have the best of both worlds. They are a well-rounded team that seems to be destined to win but they are under the most pressure of any team in recent history. They will be in front of the most intense fans in the CFL looking to win the most important game of the year and are trying not to disappoint once again. The Riders are not the best Grey Cup teams as they are 3-15 in the big game with their biggest leader Darian Durant is 0-2 in the Grey Cup. The pressure could be too much for the home team this year and they will try to overcome it and win the franchises 4th Grey Cup giving their fans even more reasons to celebrate in Regina.

Key to the Game:
Let the Crowd Carry Them
– Rider Nation may provide a lot of pressure for the Riders but if they can harness the fact that they will be at home in front of a very educated crowd they will be sure to have a 13th man in the fans that will be supporting them

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

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The Hamilton Tigers-Cats have a similar story to the Riders although their plans were not as clean-cut. In 2012 the Rogers Centre in Toronto would host the Grey Cup only a few kilometers down the QEW from Hamilton. Much like their neighbours in Toronto the Ti-Cats would look to take advantage of this and would load up on talent to make a run at the 100th Grey Cup. The addition of Henry Burris, Andy Fantuz, and Sam Giguere would be their attempt to shore up a team that could win the Grey Cup. The team would not gel for Hamilton and they would find themselves fighting with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos for the final playoff spot. They would not win it and would end their season in last place in the East in what amounted to a disastrous season after the additions they made. The Tabies would try to recover from a failed season in 2012 but would have to do so in a new home as they would move to Guelph University while Ivor Wynne would be torn down to build a new stadium for 2014. The Ti-Cats seemed to have a lot to overcome this year but as with many rebuilds a team takes a while to gel and that would happen this year. The Ti-Cats would begin their season losing four of their first five games before they would finally begin putting things together. The Ti-Cats would then win four of five games and begin their run at the top of the Eastern Division. They would not be able to get to the top spot but they would end up in second place and fight their way to the Grey Cup through Montreal and Toronto.

Now they enter the enemy territory in an attempt to spoil the party in Regina and take the Grey Cup back to Ontario. The rebuild in Hamilton would remain mainly an offensive one throughout the 2013 offseason as they would not take massive steps towards improving their defence but they would not need to. The Tabies would see what they had hoped to see when they added their offensive weapons as the offence would finally gel. Henry Burris would have a memorable season as he would lead the best offence in the league. Alongside Fantuz and Giguere and with the emergence of running back C.J. Gable the Tabies have a potent attack. They have done most of their damage through the air but have the potential for a great running attack if they are willing to use it. The Ti-Cats defence is not great but it is not awful either as they ranked among the middle of the defences in the league and were able to shut down the CFL’s best passing attack in the Toronto Argonauts. With their offence the Tabies will try to overwhelm the Riders but they will be up against it with one of the toughest road games of the year. The weather is sure to be a factor and the crowd will all be against them as they truly travel into the belly of the beast in Regina. The Tabies are facing a big task in the Grey Cup this year but they will be looking to overcome it all and win their first Grey Cup since 1999.

Prediction:
Don’t Let the Regina Get to them
– The home field advantage is one of the biggest that the Ti-Cats have faced as the rabid fans will be tough enough but the weather that looks to be far below zero will be the coldest environment they have been in and they will have to overcome all of this to win the Grey Cup

 

Prediction:

ssk_riders
Saskatchewan Roughriders 36 – 31 Hamilton Tiger-Cats
– The Ti-Cats are a great offensive team but they will not have the defensive power to stop the Saskatchewan line as Kory Sheets will have a great game and Darian Durant will improve his Grey Cup record helping the Riders to their 4th Grey Cup

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