106th Grey Cup primer: Stamps vs. Redblacks could be another classic
For the 106th time, Lord Grey's mug is up for grabs - and for the second time in three years, the Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders will compete for the right to hoist it.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of Sunday's Grey Cup matchup.
106th Grey Cup: The basics
When: Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018, at 6 p.m. ET
Where: The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta (fifth Grey Cup hosted by Edmonton)
Who: Calgary Stampeders vs. Ottawa Redblacks
TV: TSN; RDS (French); ESPN2 (United States)
Odds: Calgary -4.5 (-195)
Tale of the tape
5 storylines to follow
Third time's the charm?
The Stampeders are becoming regulars at the "Grand National Drunk," as they're the first team to make three straight Grey Cup appearances since the Alouettes from 2008 to 2010. Of course, Calgarians would probably rather forget their team's overtime loss in 2016, and also last year's collapse in the snow against the Cinderella Argonauts, but no matter - that history sets up a very compelling angle for Sunday. For a team that considers itself a dynasty, the Stamps sure have a lot of demons to shed to win their second championship with quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell.
Trevor Harris' moment
Harris finally took the next step in 2018 when he reached 5,000 passing yards for the first time. But the Redblacks pivot saved his best work for the playoffs, setting a CFL postseason record when he threw six touchdown passes in last week's beatdown of Hamilton. That performance should put most of the lingering doubts about Harris to rest ahead of the Grey Cup, even if he doesn't toss six majors again. Still, the Stamps had his number this year - in two losses to Calgary, Harris averaged just 4.5 yards per pass attempt and threw three interceptions to zero touchdowns. So, even if last week's Trevor Harris shows up (and he should), you can bet on the tenacious Stampeders defense making him work for the ring.
Bo's last hurrah?
The specter of Mitchell's impending free agency looms over this game, as the 28-year-old star could decide to take a crack at the NFL. Mitchell's had an incredible career in Calgary and is one of the CFL's biggest names, so the fact that he could go out as a champion is not only an important storyline in this Grey Cup, but also a move that could change the landscape of the league going forward. Win or lose, Calgary fans should enjoy watching Mitchell line up under center, just in case this is it.
Jonathan Rose, the Redblacks' All-Star defensive back, was handed a one-game suspension Tuesday for pushing an official during the East final. Rose elected to appeal, and because there was apparently no time for the league to hear his case, he'll be in the Redblacks' secondary Sunday with the ban hanging over his head. The official he shoved, Jocelyn Paul, will be there too, as part of the 106th Grey Cup's officiating crew.
The 25-year-old Rose was a defensive force for the Redblacks all year, tying for the league lead in interceptions (five) and forced fumbles (four); he also had a pick in the East final shortly before the incident. Rose has expressed remorse for his actions, but all eyes will be on him. That's a distraction the Redblacks don't need, and they have to hope it won't affect his play or the team's performance.
Rematch of a classic
Few will forget the classic Grey Cup from two years ago when the Redblacks stunned Calgary, winning in overtime and bringing the Grey Cup to the nation's capital for the first time in 40 years. Henry Burris may have retired, but many of the other major players from both sides are back for this game, including Redblacks receiver Brad Sinopoli, the ex-Stampeder who won Most Outstanding Canadian in the 2016 game, and both head coaches. Revenge is on Calgary's mind, while an Ottawa win this time around wouldn't be as much of an upset. Any way you slice it, the 106th Grey Cup could be another instant classic.
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