Winnipeg – Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders have one of the best long standing rivalries in the Canadian Football League and it will be played out for the final this season when the clubs meet in the annual Banjo Bowl Saturday afternoon at Investors Group Field. The Bombers are looking to sweep the back to back series with the Riders for the first time since 2004. Winnipeg edged the Riders 28-25 on Labor Day weekend thanks to a last play field goal from Justin Medlock. That was Winnipeg’s 5th win in a row, moving the Bombers into second place in the CFL west with a 6-4 record. Riders fell to 1-9 with their 6th loss in a row. Bombers have only gone 2-0 in these back to back games once, while the Riders have swept the series six times.
This is the 13th edition of the Banjo Bowl and the Riders will field largely the same lineup for the second week in a row which is a rarity for them. Saskatchewan feels they were robbed by a questionable interference call late in last Sunday’s game and they will arrive at IGF on Saturday with a chip on their shoulders. Darian Durant threw for 399 yards in that game and Blue Bomber head coach Mike O’Shea says he is looking for a better performance from his defence in this one. Rider receivers Namaan Roosevelt, Caleb Holley and Ricky Collins combined for 23 catches for 315 yards against a Bomber defensive unit that was too loose for O’Shea’s liking.
The big story for the Bombers remains turnovers. Much of their success in the 5-game win streak can be attributed to the clubs league leading plus 20 mark in the takeaway-giveaway category. Riders, meanwhile, are minus 15 and have forced a league low 12 turnovers. Bombers have a CFL leading 37 takeaways and in their five game win streak they have forced 23 turnovers while committing only 4. Remarkable numbers.
Matt Nichols will make his 6th straight start at quarterback for Winnipeg. Nichols has completed 71% of his passes for 1448 yards, 7 touchdowns and only 1 interception. Nichols has thrown 89 passes in a row without being picked off. Meanwhile, running back Andrew Harris has rolled up 492 yards along the ground in the Winnipeg win streak giving him a CFL leading 655 yards rushing.
A sellout crowd will pack Investors Group Field for the 3pm kick off on Saturday. And at halftime, Bomber great Dieter Brock will be honored as the newest inductee to Winnipeg’s Wall of Honor. Brock is the Bombers all-time passing leader and was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding player twice, in 1980 and 1981.