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Monday, October 9, 2017


By: Staff

Happy Thanksgiving football fans!

The Riders have a lot to be thankful for after completing the sweep of a pair of difficult East Division road games which included a 27-24 victory in Toronto on Saturday afternoon.

The game ball went to Brandon Bridge with his 292 yard, two touchdown passing performance in relief of Kevin Glenn.

Head Coach Chris Jones and his offensive staff's handling of the in-game quarterbacking situation was the difference in the two wins.

In Ottawa, Kevin Glenn was struggling, but Jones had faith in the veteran quarterback and it paid off. Glenn guided the Rider offence to a pair of scoring drives (TD/FG) in an 18-17 road victory.

Saturday, in front of 15,102 fans (very generous - maybe they were dressed like the red seats?) at BMO Field in Toronto, Kevin Glenn struggled out of the gate again. He completed three of eight passes for just 29 yards. Chris Jones didn’t hesitate putting Brandon Bridge with 8:10 remaining in the second quarter and the Riders trailing 13-3.

The Rider coaching staff was rewarded with a great performance by Bridge, while the defence stiffened in the second half en route to the victory.

With just four games before the playoffs begin, the quarterbacking situation with the Saskatchewan Roughriders is the biggest question mark. It’s something that needs to be ironed out before the road to the Grey Cup begins.

Brandon Bridge deserves to get the start Friday night at Mosaic Stadium against the Ottawa Redblacks. If he performs well, it may be his job to lose from here on in. To have Kevin Glenn on the bench is a luxury the Riders would have at their disposal in case things go south for Bridge. If the Riders can figure this out, look out.

Friday's game against Ottawa at Mosaic Stadium is setting up to be a dandy. The Redblacks will bring with them the solid running game that gouged the Rider defence for 200 yards two weeks ago, and Trevor Harris is back guiding the Ottawa offence.

After starting the season 1-6-1, the Redblacks are 5-3 since and are playing their best football of the season. They need to win Friday night because in a weird scheduling quirk, this is their second-last game of the season and even with a pair of wins, they will still finish a game under .500.

As Out of the Tunnel goes to press, the Edmonton Eskimos are still a couple hours away from taking the field in Montreal on Monday. A win would keep them neck-and-neck with the Riders with 8-6 records. B.C. trails the pack with six wins.

It doesn’t matter if the Eskimos win or lose in Montreal; there is a chance that all five teams in the West Division can finish with a .500 record or better, which is rare in a five team West.

If this does happen, it will be the first time ever that a .500 team will miss the playoffs since before the crossover playoff format began in 1996.

It happened twice during the failed U.S. expansion years: Memphis Mad Dogs (9-9) in 1996 and the Sacramento Gold Miners (9-8-1) in 1995 both missed the playoffs. Before that (and in the traditional five-team West and four-team East) it was a common occurrence. Between 1974 and 1986, a team with a winning record missed the playoffs 8 times in 13 years (including Saskatchewan twice in 1977 and 1981).

There has been a lot of discussion (including here) on whether to go to a one division CFL. Looking a little more in-depth on how incredibly atypical this situation is, there is no need for a knee-jerk reaction to change the playoff format from its current form.

CFL Notes

-       Has anyone had a worse year than John Chick? He started the season with the Hamilton Ti-Cats and was a part of the group that lost the first eight games of the season before being traded to Edmonton on August 20th. Chick has yet to be on the winning side of the football in his first five games as an Eskimo, 0-13 is a tough way to start a season and let’s hope he finally gets to taste sweet victory in Montreal.

-       Since starting the season 0-8, Hamilton is 4-2 and playing some great football. Picking up the 30-13 road win in Winnipeg kept their incredibly slim playoff hopes alive. They trail the Redblacks by five points in the East Division with two games in hand and four to go. They would have to run the table and look for Ottawa to stumble down the stretch. It’s a longshot, but considering their start, a playoff berth is a lot closer than it should be.

-       As Ottawa and Hamilton play their best football of the season Edmonton and B.C are playing their worst. Edmonton’s six game losing streak is well documented, but the Lions are 1-6 since their August 5th route of the Riders in Vancouver. Think back two months ago, how many of us would have said the Riders would be on their way to clinching a playoff spot and the Lions would find themselves on the outside looking in.

Canada West Diary:

The Canada West Football Conference had the week off for mid-terms and will get things going again this Saturday with a trio of games (all times local):
Manitoba (1-4) at #2 Calgary (5-0) 1:00pm
#8 Regina (3-2) at Alberta (1-4) 1:00pm
#7 UBC (3-2) at Saskatchewan (2-3) 7:00pm

PFC Wrap:

Before the week even began the Edmonton Huskies, Saskatoon Hilltops, Regina Thunder and Winnipeg Rifles had already made the playoffs and because of a quirky travel rule, it didn’t matter where everyone finished in the standings.

We start with a rule surrounding travel in the playoffs. From the Regina Thunder Football Club Facebook page on October 3rd:
“No matter the outcome of this weekend's game, there is a conference rule that limits teams to just one province travel when possible. That means Winnipeg will travel to Saskatoon and therefore, the Regina Thunder will travel to play the Edmonton Huskies.”

So even before the final weekend began, the Regina Thunder knew they had to travel to Edmonton and take on the Huskies on Sunday, October 15 at 1pm and the Saskatoon Hilltops would host the Winnipeg Rifles at SMF Field next weekend.

The only thing on the line was first overall as they headed on the road to face the Edmonton Huskies. Adam Machart (143) and Josh Ewancyna (100) combined for 243 yards along the ground and three touchdowns, helping the Hilltops knock off the previously undefeated Huskies 38-28. This sealed the top spot in the PFC for the Hilltops and they will hold home-field advantage for the rest of the playoffs.

The rest of the weekend saw the Regina Thunder travel to Winnipeg and lose to the Rifles 35-22 and the Calgary Colts finish the season with a 30-16 win over the Edmonton Wildcats.

PFC Semi-final schedule:
Sunday, October 15th:
Winnipeg Rifles at Saskatoon Hilltops TBD
Regina Thunder at Edmonton Huskies 1:00pm

Canadian to Watch in the NCAA
Julian Laurent – DT
Georgia State
6’4” 295lbs.
Hometown – Toronto, Ont.
Class – Rs Sr.

The redshirt senior is in his second season as a starter at nose tackle for the Panthers. He had a breakout 2016, collecting 28 total tackles and a sack. It’s been a quick start to 2017 with nine total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss in four games.

Laurent began his college career at New Mexico Military Institute in 2014 before transferring to Georgia State. He is strong academically, earning Dean’s List honours twice.

( Staff)