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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

OUT OF THE TUNNEL: GET READY FOR THE PLAYOFFS!

Photo: CFL.ca

BY: RODPEDERSEN.COM STAFF


If there was a colour that best describes the Saskatchewan Roughriders 19-12 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos on Thanksgiving Day, it would be taupe.

It wasn’t exciting and other than the Willie Jefferson game-winning interception for a touchdown in the dying moments, it would have been a disaster. In the end, just like the colour taupe, it gets the job done.

This was a game played between the 30’s and not much beyond with neither offence mustering over 300-yards of offence (Edmonton did in the end with the help of the 71-yard Hail Mary to the Roughriders 14-yard-line).

It was, yet again, the Rider defence coming to the rescue with three interceptions (including the Pick 6), a forced fumble, a turnover on downs and five sacks. They have been responsible for seven of the ten victories this season and also why the Riders have all but clinched a home playoff date.

The offence was OK, but not great. Zach Collaros threw for 249 yards but needed a whopping 38 passes to get there. The positive part of the offence saw Collaros hit nine different receivers in the process with Shaq Evans and Kenny Shaw standing out.

Even the usually-automatic Brett Lauther had a down game missing two field goals (both over 45-yards) in a single game for the first time this season.

In the end, a win is a win but as the playoffs are on the horizon there are a couple of ways you can look at the Roughriders:

The positive is the fact that all three phases haven’t had a great game at the same time. Many times, it has been the defence or the special teams bailing out the offence with the offence shining in the Riders past two road games in Toronto and Montreal.

If all three phases play well at the same time, there is not a team in the CFL that could touch them and everyone in Rider Nation is waiting for that to happen.

The negative is that statistically speaking, everything in the end will even itself out. To continue the incredible season that has seen double digit miraculous big plays on defence, huge returns on special teams and winning games without an offence that can consistently put two touchdowns on the board, is flirting with disaster.

There will be a game where it’s the opponent that has all of the big plays on defence and special teams and the Green and White will need a steady offence to lead the way.

Just look at the simplest of statistics: there haven’t been many teams in the history of football that are five games over .500 but have scored just 13-points more than they have given up.

With just three games left, barring a mathematical disaster, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will host a playoff game for the first time since the West Semi-Final in 2013. There is a long-shot chance that they could catch the Calgary Stampeders for first in the West but being four points down with three to play (Calgary with four) it looks like the top-two spots are sealed.

It also looks like the Riders opponent will be the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. They look like they are starting to turn things around just as the season is ending and with the Eskimos tumbling off the face of the earth and the incredibly inconsistent B.C. Lions in chase, the West Division is almost set for the post-season.

With Hamilton and Ottawa sealing playoff spots and the crossover in effect, there won’t be much drama remaining in the regular season other than the battle between the Lions and Eskimos to see which team will head east.

One last CFL note, let’s not play any more Thanksgiving football. It may work in Montreal where they are trying to build some tradition, but here in Saskatchewan…no thank-you.
This Week in Canada West:

There were no games in Canada West this week as they took their annual Thanksgiving break but that didn’t stop the Regina Rams from making headlines.

From the Canada West press release, “An oversight during Regina's student-athlete intake and eligibility process over the summer led to the player competing this season. The ineligible player participated in all five of Regina's 2018 Canada West regular season games.

"As per Canada West regulations, Regina forfeits all results in which the ineligible player participated, with games originally won by Regina now being recorded as 1-0 results for Regina's opponents.”

This is heartbreaking for the Rams and for all of the University of Regina athletic department. The Rams were having a solid season with a chance of a 5-3 record and a possible home playoff date. Now, even though they have a slim shot at a playoff spot, it’s tough because one of those wins would have to be on the road in Calgary.

There is no way this can be appealed because it was self-reported, and this isn’t the NCAA where matters like this are swept under the rug and left for later.

As a fan, just go to the last two home games of the season and cheer a team on that has been 100 per cent above board and do things the right way. Maybe, just maybe, something strange will happen.

Week 6 in Canada West:

Friday, October 12th

Alberta Golden Bears (2-3) at Regina Rams (0-5) 7:00pm (Mosaic Stadium)
Manitoba Bisons (3-2) at Calgary Dinos (5-0) 7:00pm (McMahon Stadium)
Saskatchewan Huskies (3-2) at UBC Thunderbirds (2-3) (Thunderbird Stadium)

This Week in the PFC:

It’s the Saskatoon Hilltops (7-0) world and the rest of the Prairie Football Conference is just living in it. The 'Toppers continued their undefeated season by mopping the floor with the Edmonton Wildcats 53-0.

The Edmonton Huskies made easy work of the lowly Calgary Colts with a 56-0 drubbing and in the process have sealed second in the PFC as they play the Wildcats in the final game of the regular season.

The game of the week saw the Regina Thunder (4-3) take a big step in locking up third in the PFC and avoiding a first round visit to Saskatoon by knocking off the Winnipeg Rifles (3-4) 38-17. The Thunder will finish the season in Calgary while Winnipeg have the daunting task of heading to Saskatoon.

PFC Schedule:

Sunday, October 14th
Edmonton Huskies at Edmonton Wildcats 1:00pm (Clarke Stadium)
Regina Thunder at Calgary Colts 1:00pm (McMahon Stadium)
Winnipeg Rifles at Saskatoon Hilltops 1:00pm (SMF Field)


Canadian to Watch in the NCAA

J.J. Molson
Kicker – UCLA
6’1”, 185lbs.
Montreal, Que.
High School – Selwyn House School

We focused on the kicker from Montreal last season, but Molson has been one of the few bright spots in what has been a dismal UCLA season.

Molson is 5/6 kicking field goals with kicks of 49 and 50 yards included and is a perfect 11/11 on PAT’s. Molson missed his first field goal this week. It was a 47-yarder against the Washington Huskies. He is also turning into a kickoff specialist with 13 of 21 of his kickoffs being touchbacks.

(RodPedersen.com Staff)

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