The 108th Grey Cup is right around the corner.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Sunday at 6:00 pm ET from Tim Hortons Field for a chance to be crowned CFL champions.
The Ticats and Bombers will meet in the final for the second-consecutive season. The two teams met in 2019 for the league championship where Winnipeg won their first Grey Cup since 1990, snapping a league-longest 29-year drought.
That title now belongs to the Ticats who have not won a Grey Cup since 1999; a 22-year drought.
Ticats have home field advantage
Hamilton will play in a Grey Cup hosted at their home stadium for the first time since 1972. In a vacuum, the Tiger-Cats would be heavy underdogs in this game, going up against one of the most dominant regular season teams the CFL has seen in a long time. However, they will have a packed house full of screaming fans on their side in this one, which has to sway the odds in their favor. How much remains to be seen.
The Ticats finished 8-6 in the regular season; good for second-place in the East. With the advantage of nearly 22 000 fans, they took down the third-place Montreal Alouettes in the division semi-final to advance to the East Final in Toronto.
Approximately 21 500 fans attended the East Final between the Ticats and Toronto Argonauts at BMO Field, and a very large percentage of those fans were sporting the black and gold.
The Argos jumped out to a 12-0 lead at the half but Ticats quarterback Dane Evans, who replaced Jeremiah Masoli in the second-quarter, would lead his squad to a huge second-half to secure a spot in the Grey Cup.
Evans threw for 249 yards on a perfect 16-16 passing and one touchdown as Hamilton outscored Toronto 27-7 in the final two quarters. 27-19 the final.
The 28-year-old quarterback expressed his excitement after the game but insists that he will support the team no matter who they decide to start in the Grey Cup.
“To me, it doesn’t matter,” said Evans. “We just want to win this Grey Cup, we just want our names on the cup forever. That’s something you can show your kids, you can show your grandkids and to me, I don’t care if I have to serve water to everybody on the team; I want my name on the Grey Cup and I know that’s what the team wants too. Whatever they say, I’m going to be 100 per cent supportive, if I’m the guy, if he’s (Masoli) the guy, I don’t care. I want to win.”
Bombers look for second-straight league title
The defending Grey Cup champion Blue Bombers will look to win consecutive titles for the first time since 1961 and 1962.
After finishing the regular season with a league-best 11-3 record, Winnipeg earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs before matching up with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West Final.
The Bombers made things tough on themselves early on, committing 5 costly turnovers in the first half of the game. However, they would clean things up in the second-half to hang on for a 21-17 victory. The Bombers relied heavily on Andrew Harris in frigid weather conditions as the 2019 Grey Cup MVP rushed for 136 yards on 22 attempts and one touchdown.
Same teams, different circumstances
The 2019 Grey Cup was played in Calgary and Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea felt like his team had the fans on their side in that game. He expects a much different look this time around in Hamilton.
“That’ll be interesting,” O’Shea said. “Hamilton fans will be there in droves and it’ll definitely be a different atmosphere in terms of type of game.
“In 2019 (in Calgary) it really did feel like a home game. I came in after the warm-up, I was pretty excited. I thought it felt like a home crowd out there during the warm-up. So it will be different, that’ll be for sure. We’ll have to be sure we’re organized with those kind of things in mind.”
The two teams met just once during the regular season and it was in week one; a 2019 Grey Cup rematch. The Bombers came out on top in a defense-dominated 19-6 home victory.
Winnipeg is listed as the slim favorite to be crowned 2021 Grey Cup champions..
Spread: Blue Bombers (-3) 1.90 | Tiger-Cats (+3) 1.90
Money Line: Blue Bombers 1.58 | Tiger-Cats 2.25
Over/Under: Over (44.5) 1.90 | Under (44.5) 1.90