|Photo: Canadian Press/Mark Taylor|
The Rider Nation is still buzzing after Saskatchewan's second-straight dominating performance Saturday night. The 35-16 victory over the B.C. Lions at Mosaic Stadium had the same storylines everyone has been writing about all season: an incredibly opportunistic defence, solid special teams and Brett Lauther.
The defence stepped up again and scored their 10th and 11th touchdowns of the season, bailing out an offence that came to a halt with the injury to starting quarterback Zach Collaros (more on that later).
The special teams were solid again. They had an easy night handling a Lions return game without their top player Chris Rainey and the kickoff return team flipped the field again for the second game in a row.
The win seals, at minimum, second-place in the CFL West but as the Green and White sits back and takes a much deserved break during the upcoming bye week, their eyes are on Calgary. Another Stamps loss will mean first place for the Green Guys, and hosting a Western Final game for the first time since 2009.
However Saturday's win came at a cost.
The offence took their hits again with Tre Mason going down with what appears to be a season-ending knee injury and Zach Collaros left the game early in the second quarter after a hit to the head by Odell Willis late in the first.
The delay was the fact that the CFL concussion protocol waited until Collaros finished the drive which ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by Tre Mason. Brandon Bridge came into the game and was, well, very good at handing the ball off to Cam Marshall who finished with a career high 134 yards on 19 carries.
Collaros should have been pulled right after the hit, for his own safety. Especially if this was yet another concussion for a player with a documented history of concussions.
Let’s just say a bye week has come at the right time for the Green and White.
|Catch New England-Buffalo Monday at Famoso Downtown|
- The Riders will finish second-last in the CFL in total touchdowns with 40. An incredible 15 of those touchdowns (37.5%) are on defence (league high of 11) and special teams (tied for a league high with four).
- The Riders were 1-for-2 in the red zone Saturday night against the Lions and will finish the season 15/40 (37.5%) in the red zone (20-yards and in) this season. The offensive woes can be placed right there in one stat. In 18 games, the Riders broke the 20-yard-line just a hair over twice per game.
- On the defensive side, the Riders allowed 23 touchdowns on opponents' 43 trips to the red zone (53%).
- Saying all of that, shouldn’t the red zone in the CFL begin at the 35?
- One of the biggest indicators of how strong a team is defensively would be average yards per play given up. It doesn’t matter what league or level - NFL, NCAA or USports - it’s the same across the board and the CFL is included. The top six teams in yards given up are all in the playoffs and the bottom three teams are on the outside looking in.
- The Riders will finish the season outscoring their opponents 450 - 444.
During the season many (including here at Out of the Tunnel) have been hard on the Riders for not having a decent offence and relying on defence and special teams to win games.
Now as the weather turns cold, do you know what everyone says wins games? A stout defence and great special teams. Throw in a solid running game with a bell cow runner like Cam Marshall, one might want to begin to book the parade route for the Green and White.
Go buy your playoff tickets now! There are a bunch available because many of the season tickets purchased via marketing contracts do not include playoff tickets.
That means if you weren't able to see the historic first game at Mosaic Stadium or either of the Labour Day Classics this is your chance to see the first ever playoff game at the new digs!
The question is: when? November 11th in the Western Semifinal would be great, but things could get a tad bit sticky if the Riders host the West Division Final on November 18th. That’s because a day later, Agribition will start. If you think parking and getting around the area during the season is difficult, just imagine how it will be in the teeth of the biggest event of the year at Evraz Place. But I guess that's a GOOD problem to have for Rider Nation.
This Week in Canada West:
The UBC Thunderbirds (5-3) went from the bottom of the barrel to hosting a playoff game in the Canada West. They needed overtime to knock off the Manitoba Bisons (3-5) 38-34. UBC actually drove the Bisons back eight yards in their first overtime attempts which finished with a 50-yard field goal. UBC then drove down the field when Michael O’Connor hit Ben Cummings on a two-yard pass to win the game.
The Saskatchewan Huskies (5-3) will be UBC’s opponent as they boat-raced a beat-up Regina Rams (1-7) club 57-14 at Mosaic Stadium on Friday. The stats tell the whole story, the Huskies out-gained the Rams 661 to 221.
The Calgary Dinos made short work of the Alberta Golden Bears (2-6) 52-6 and will host the Manitoba Bisons in the Hardy Cup semi-finals next week.
Hardy Cup Semifinals:
Saturday, November 3rd
Manitoba Bisons at Calgary Dinos 12:00pm (McMahon Stadium)
Saskatchewan Huskies at UBC Thunderbirds 2:00pm (Thunderbird Stadium)
This Week in the PFC:
It was a coronation at SMF Field in Saskatoon on Sunday afternoon. The Saskatoon Hilltops won their fifth straight PFC title with a 28-9 victory over the Edmonton Huskies.
Running back Jordan Ewanchyna led the way again for the ‘Toppers with 163 yards on the ground and three scores.
They will now host the Canadian Bowl championship game on November 17th at SMF Field against either the Langley Rams or Hamilton Hurricanes.
Canadian to Watch in the NCAA
Amen Ogbongbemiga RsSoph.
Linebacker – Oklahoma State
High School – Notre Dame
From a football family (brother Alex played a short time in the CFL), Amen Ogbongbemiga is slowly finding his place with the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
In his second season with the Cowboys, Ogbongbemiga has seen spot duty on the defence collecting seven tackles and a half of a sack in eight games this season. He was also named an academic All-American in 2017.