104th Grey Cup Preview

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The best stories always involve and underdog coming up big at the right time to beat a major opponent.

That is true in life and in sports but it tends to come true more in sports than anywhere else as underdogs write the best chapters of sports history.

They make up the best games and provide some of the best memories as teams that have no chance who come out on top give sports the thing that makes them so exciting.

There is a big section of CFL fans that are hoping that the next David versus Goliath match-up ends with another underdog taking the win.

That is going to be a big if in the 104th Grey Cup though as there may have never been a more lopsided match-up on paper than this one.

On one side is one of the best teams to ever go through a season in the CFL in the Calgary Stampeders.

They put up one of the best records ever and came within one win of breaking the record for most wins in a season.

They walked into the playoffs and barely saw a challenge only losing two games and ending one game in a tie.

There were few days where they looked off and from the start of the season most had them winning the Grey Cup anyway.

They are led by the Most Outstanding Player in Bo Levi Mitchell and took home the majority of the CFL awards this year.

There has never been a team this dominant but for them, it could all be for nought if they can’t win the Grey Cup.

On the other side is the worst team to ever make the Grey Cup in the Ottawa REDBLACKS who won their division with a losing record.

They were a product of a terrible division and would have never come close to the playoffs if they had been playing in the west.

Still, they made it and although they did go through plenty of issues throughout the season they have looked better at the end of the year.

The REDBLACKS are up against it against the Stampeders but they may have one big motivating factor in this game.

The Stampeders ended the season just short of achieving a record number of wins and a big factor in that was their one tie.

That tie came against the REDBLACKS early in the year as both teams were playing great but neither could take the advantage.football-sidebar

The REDBLACKS are one of only three teams in the league that actually gave the Stampeders a run for their money in a game this year.

If there is a team in the east that could do something to them it has to be the REDBLACKS.

They will also enter the Grey Cup with one of the biggest motivating factors that any underdog team has when thy take on a powerhouse.

Nobody is giving them a chance at winning and when used right that can motivate a group of proud football players into playing above their potential.

Playing with a chip on their shoulder is what the best underdog stories are made of and there is a big one on the shoulders of every Ottawa player.

There is literally not one person that thinks that the REDBLACKS can win this game unless they are just trying to be a devil’s advocate and they would love to prove everyone wrong.

It is going to be a challenge and there are likely two options about how this game will end.

If the REDBLACKS win it will be a close battle that will go back and forth until the end with the smallest of plays making big differences.

It could also go the other way though as the Stamps could win in a blowout much like they have throughout the entire season.

A build up like this one is a set-up for an even better story at the end of the day if the unthinkable can happen.

With nobody focusing on the REDBLACKS they may just be able to pull it out and create yet another chapter where the underdog comes out on top despite terrible odds.

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The season couldn’t have gone better for the Stampeders who started off with a little uncertainty. That uncertainty came with the change on the sidelines as John Hufnagel retired from head coaching leaving Dave Dickenson to take the reigns. It wasn’t a major concern but some wondered if anything would change and if Dickenson would change anything from the successful plan that Hufnagel had put in place. The plan didn’t change much as the Stamps looked great from start to finish walking away with the western division and one of the best records in the history of the CFL. It was just a continuation of their great play over the last few years as the Stamps have been one of the best teams in the league over the last few seasons. A lot of that great play has come with a decision made years ago to go with o Levi Mitchell over Drew Tate. It’s not to say that Tate wouldn’t have had the same success but Mitchell has taken full advantage of the opportunity and is quickly becoming one of the best CFL quarterbacks ever. He has led the Stamps to a Grey Cup already and with his MOP performance this season he looks to get his second championship. He has been the difference for this team as they have seen a constant rotation of receivers including losing their top receiver from a year ago. They have had the ability to find replacements though as Marquay McDaniel stepped up to lead the team while rookie receiver DaVaris Daniels took over as a major target in when he came arrived in August and won the Most Outstanding Rookie Award for his efforts. Mitchell is not alone in making this offence work though as they also have a potent rushing attack led by Most Outstanding Canadian Jerome Messam. He led the league in rushing yards and in rushing touchdowns this year and he gives the Stamps a balance that no other team has. When your quarterback leads the league in passing and your running back leads the league in rushing the defence only needs to be good to win a championship. Luckily for the Stamps, they also have the best defence in the league allowing a league low 469 points against. They are led by a great pass rush as Charleston Hughes put together 16 sacks this year which led the league. That pressure helps them get ahead early and allows them to make it very difficult for other teams to put up points. The fact is that the Stampeders are one of the most balanced teams in all aspects of the game and it is hard to see much of a weakness in their game. The only issue they may have, although they haven’t run into it at all yet, is that they are so good and they know it. Getting ahead of themselves and not taking Ottawa seriously might be the only way they take a loss in this game.

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The Ottawa REDBLACKS are no strangers to being the underdog in the biggest game of the year, which is interesting considering this is only their third year in the league. In their first year, they looked like an expansion team as they just struggled to get a win let alone thinking about the Grey Cup. Their second year they underwent a major rebuilding phase which turned out to be big for the franchise as they turned around and won the east division. They found their way to the Grey Cup in only their second year as a franchise but that year they ran into another dominant Alberta team in the Edmonton Eskimos. They came into the game as underdogs, although not nearly as much as this year, and they lost the game. It wasn’t a blowout as the Eskimos won 26-20 completing a great season and now the REDBLACKS find themselves in a very similar situation. This time around the team they are playing against is better and their season has not been nearly as great after winning their division with a losing record. A lot of their issues stemmed from the quarterback position as an early injury to Henry Burris brought in Trevor Harris who looked great until he all of a sudden went down with injury bringing Burris back into the starting role. It was a constant rotation between the two until finally Burris took the role at the end of the season and seemed to turn things around for the team. Burris helped them into the playoffs and helped them to get some revenge on the Eskimos in the eastern final playing their best game of the season. Burris will look to put on another great performance in the biggest game and like he has all season he will have plenty of help. The receiving corps is one of the best in the league as they saw four receivers reach 1,000 yards for the second year in a row. Greg Ellingson leads the way while Ernest Jackson was the eastern nominee for the MOP with over 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. In the backfield the REDBLACKS are slightly more unknown as their leading rusher Mossis Madu went down with an injury in the eastern final but Kienan LaFrance stepped up running for over 100 yards in the game. LaFrance will likely take over for the Grey Cup and the REDBLACKS will need him to step up like he did in the eastern final. The defence is not as great as their opponents but they do know how to take advantage of opportunities. They have the third-most interceptions in the league and their 16 interceptions were spread pretty evenly throughout the group. They do allow a lot of points through and they will have a very tough time stopping such a balanced attack as the Stamps have. Their offence might be able to keep up but the defence is where this game is going to be decided as the REDBLACKS need to step up on that side of the ball.

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