Don’t let anyone tell you that global warming isn’t having an effect on sports.
The CFL Playoffs are usually as much about the game as how the teams will adapt to the playing conditions. With four of this year’s five postseason games being held outdoors (the East final in Montreal being the exception), I assumed that Sunday’s games would be much of the same: frozen turf, the visible breath of ten linemen in the trenches, hits that hurt more than usual, you know, what makes the CFL the CFL. I checked out The Weather Network for game-time forecasts and wound up very disappointed.
Hamilton: Variable clouds with a high of 13
Calgary: Variable clouds with a high of 8.
I guess if there’s one positive to draw from this unfortunate situation, it means the quality of play will be better. For the few who watched Saturday’s Yates Cup, the above average temperatures in Kingston allowed Queen’s’ Danny Brannagan and Western’s Michael Faulds to pass for 515 and 509 yards, respectively. (The game was the best football game I’ve seen since the 2007 Fiesta Bowl featuring Boise State and Oklahoma, but that’s another debate for another day.)
The point I’m making is that with so many playmakers at Ivor Wynne and McMahon Stadiums on Sunday, there’s potential for some classics to occur.
East Semi-Final — BC @ Hamilton
Hamilton linebacker Otis Floyd was pretty motivated after last week’s win in Winnipeg, when he got into the face of Bombers’ coach Mike Kelly. He was reminding Kelly about how the quarterback he cut in training camp, Kevin Glenn, will be starting on Sunday. Now he’s the source of his own motivation.
He’s one of five former Lions on the Ti-Cats’ roster, so don’t think that a win wouldn’t be sweet in more ways than one.
“[Teammates] call us the rejects. Hey, the rejects are getting ready to play,” he said. “It’s a little bit of added motivation going against your former team.”
The game also marks Casey Printers’ return to Steeltown after signing a lucrative deal in 2007 that made him the CFL’s highest paid player. After a miserable stay that lasted for a season and a bit, he was released in early 2009. He’s out to prove that he wasn’t the problem, and that is was more due to a lack of support.
Be that as it may, this Ti-Cat team is not just the best they’ve had since 2007, but perhaps the best since they last won the Grey Cup in 1999. Western teams crossing over to the East are 1-4 since the system was implemented. Look for that trend to continue.
Hamilton 24, BC 20
West Semi-Final — Edmonton @ Calgary
The best rivalry in the CFL is home to the two best quarterbacks in the CFL. The weather will allow for an absolute shootout, but will one or two teams take part?
The two Battles of Alberta held at Commenwealth in Edmonton were classics, won on essentially the final plays of the game. The Eskimos took the first 38-35 in mid-August. Henry Burris gave Calgary the lead in the final minute, only to see Ricky Ray lead the Esks back down the field on a touchdown drive of his own.
The Labour Day rematch was just as exciting. Edmonton lead in the final minute, but Burris found Jeremaine Copeland down the middle for a sensational game-winning major and a 35-34 win.
The two games in Cowtown? That’s a different story. The Stamps crushed their rivals 32-8 on Labour Day, and throttled them again 30-7 three weeks ago. So this game is a no-brainer right?
I love stats more than anyone, but as the old cliché goes, throw them out the window: It’s playoff time. Ray led the league in passing this season with 4,916 yards, and as much as Henry Burris deserves accolades for being last year’s Grey Cup Most Outstanding Player, Ray still doubles him in championships.
Calgary has a lot to prove after they had first place in the West pulled from underneath them last week in Saskatchewan, but this won’t be a cakewalk for them. They’ll just be lucky enough to get the ball last.
Calgary 35, Edmonton 34