Classic is a relative term, I guess.
On one hand, you have the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who currently sit last in the CFL East with a 2W-6L record. On the other hand, you have the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who are last in the CFL West with a 3W-5L record. So a battle of the titans this definitely is not. Which isn’t to say that the game won’t be entertaining. Although if I was a betting man I’d expect the game to be low scoring.
After putting a pile of points on the board in the first five games the Rider offence has reverted to 2011 form, managing a grand total of 35 points in the last three games. The Bombers, meanwhile, are led by third string QB Joey Elliott. He looked strong in the Blue & Gold’s 32-25 victory over the Hamilton Tiger Cats on Aug. 16. But he was less effective in last week’s 20-17 loss to the B.C. Lions. Mind you, it’s not like a lot of CFL QBs are enjoying stellar outtings against the tenacious Lions’ D.
Similar to last year’s game, which the Riders won 27-7, one of the teams will be taking the field under a new head coach. In 2011, the Riders used their bye week to fire Greg Marshall and reinstall Ken Miller at the helm. This year, it was the Bombers who gave Paul LaPolice his walking papers, replacing him with Tim Burke. Having guided the Bombers to the Grey Cup last year, the move caught some CFL observers by surprise, but it seems that team discipline had become a problem under LaPolice, and Burke was given the task of re-establishing control in the dressingroom.
Against the Stampeders last Saturday (game photo above), the Riders surrendered 185 yards rushing. With linebacker Abraham Kromah out with a broken fibula, the Green & White have shifted middle linebacker Shomari Williams to the outside and have brought in former Winnipeg linebacker Joe Lobendahn to try to tighten things up on defense.
The Riders are riding a seven game win streak in this annual encounter, their last loss coming in 2004. So they have be considered favourites to emerge with a W. Whether that will be enough to get them over the hump and back in the hunt in the CFL West remains to be seen, though. Game time Sunday on TSN is 2 p.m.