Pedersen: Best Grey Cup matchup ever? | | Official Site of the Canadian Football League

The stage is set for the greatest Grey Cup ever.

You don't even have to be a fan of the Saskatchewan Roughriders or Hamilton Tiger-Cats to realize the 101st Grey Cup at Regina's Mosaic Stadium on Sunday is the greatest matchup in league history.

To get there, however, the Riders had to get past the Stampeders in Calgary in Sunday's Western Final. Did they ever! The green guys clubbed their top rival 35-13 and the score actually flattered the home team.

101GC: Riders Staying Focused

A blocked field goal and a fumble on the goal line in the first half left 10 points on the field for the Riders but in the end it didn't matter.

Complete domination. 

However the Stampeders never even gave themselves a chance by committing seven turnovers and only taking the ball away once.

"It's so surreal for us to win here," said Rider coach Corey Chamblin. "My biggest goal since leaving Calgary was to be able to win here. We finally did and it's an unbelievable feeling. We went through some ups and downs but our team didn't waiver. The coaches and players didn't and we're right where we need to be."

I don't know why, but it was very clear to me the Riders and Ticats were on a collision course for the 101st Grey Cup as far back as last December when Hamilton hired Kent Austin as coach and GM.  They advanced to this championship game by beating the Argonauts 36-24 in Toronto in the Eastern Final.

Much will be written and said during Grey Cup Week about Austin and fellow former Riders Henry Burris, Andy Fantuz, Luca Congi and Eric Tillman coming into Regina to finish the job.

However according to the Riders, that's only important to the media and fans.

"This is good for the storylines and the media but for me it's all about getting that Cup man," said a relieved Rider quarterback Darian Durant after the Western Final. 

"2009 was heartbreaking and 2010 was hard. We gotta get this one."

For Riders President Jim Hopson, who oversaw and consented all of the team's personnel moves over the past 11 months, it's all paid off.

"Everything we did this year was geared to this," Hopson revealed.  "We put a lot of pressure on ourselves saying if we didn't make it to the Grey Cup it would be a disappointment.  

"But it's not over. I thought BC was our biggest challenge, honestly. I feel good but we got one more game to play."

The matchup is mind-blowing. The drama is over-the-top. It's going to be the longest, short week of our lives in anticipation of Sunday's kickoff.

The game itself is scintillating, but the festival itself will be the greatest-ever long before Sunday. Rider legends like Bobby Jurasin and Jeff Fairholm are coming back for the festivities to join the likes of George Reed, Don Narcisse, Roger Aldag, Dan Rashovich and all the others who make their home here.

Austin too, of course, but he'll be clad in black and gold and intent on spoiling the party.

"I can't put into words what it will be like with Kent coming back," Hopson smiled. "It's going to be a great week."

Although I had the premonition of a Saskatchewan-Hamilton Grey Cup, it stopped short of predicting the winner. It's like being woken up near the end of the best dream you ever had!

And now the Riders, who beat Hamilton in both regular season meetings, have to quickly turn the page from the elation of being Western Division champs to the realization that there's still a huge obstacle in the way of their fourth Grey Cup title in franchise history.

However for now, they can relish in the accomplishment.

"We're in it baby!" screamed Chamblin.

About Rod

Rod Pedersen is the Voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders on 620 CKRM. You can check out his award-winning blog at Follow Rod on Twitter @sportscage.

Fan Comments
Way to go Riders and Ti-cats. Both very deserving teams with very deserving fan bases. Should be an absolute treat. Especially with the Riders winning by two touchdowns.
November 21, 2013 - 5:49pm
Orange & Black
Now if you want to watch a real classic match-up on Sunday evening, Tom Brady's New England Patriots are hosting Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos. Plus the added bonus is: Competent, impartial, professional offitiating!
November 21, 2013 - 3:54am
The Lions lost not because of the refs but because of the Riders. Same with the Stamps. Now give credit where it's due or just keep your mouth shut. poor sport.
November 21, 2013 - 5:21pm
Man you have to be the most bitter and annoying poster on this website.
November 21, 2013 - 5:42pm
Orange & Black
Thanks RayX. It takes one to know one!
November 23, 2013 - 4:14am
It may not be the best GC match up ever, but the fans of the Riders and TiCats are certainly going to enjoy this one. These 2 clubs have the best fans in their respective divisions. Great hype and expectation = Great fun and atmosphere. Have a party Sask - you deserve it! Hamilton - your team has overcome lots in the last few years - good to see you back in the show. By Sunday night we may all be saying the Best GC ever! BTW Go Riders!
November 20, 2013 - 6:35pm
Ahhh, you see the media in Sk is the driving force in boosting the fans. Always take any media with a grain of salt. crystaleye...your comment is truly from a CFL fan. And only the end of the game will tell the truth. And I feel it is my right to 'believe' it will be my Riders :)
November 19, 2013 - 9:46pm
Montreal making the Grey Cup was laughable. Sour grapes is laughable. Ticats vs Sask is reality!!!
November 19, 2013 - 8:49pm
als rule
hamilton supporters like T15GC thinking the cats win the GC is laughable!! NO sour grapes just robbery by the cats in guelph and that my striped friend is the reality of the GC!! GO RIDERS GO!!
November 20, 2013 - 11:40pm
Best match-up ever??? I will be very surprised if this is even a close game. Would love to see the Cats give the Riders a run, but can't see it happening!!
November 19, 2013 - 7:58pm
110 yards
I agree with many posters, this should be a great game.
The RoughRiders with a lot of experience and star studed line up and a QB that is playing like a master on a mission. Against the Tiger Cats with a great group of first/second year enthusiastic young guns with a nice mix of veterans lead by a real gun slinger tier 1 QB but most of all by a tier 1+/top shelf HC that is totally positive, what a match up.
To all players, coaches and staff have a great game.
To all fans of the CFL ENJOY the game.
November 19, 2013 - 7:27pm
als rule
110Y: you appear to be the master on a mission in promoting the 2nd tier QB and HC of the cats to tier 1 BUT in the of chance hamilton does win the GC it will not change the fact that HB and KA are still tier 2 material!!
November 21, 2013 - 12:12am
als rule
everybody's comment is just so funny BUT the "BATTLE FOR THE AGES" tops the cake!! give me a break!! there'll be plenty of time after the game to discuss where this GC is slotted into GC history!! to do and say this before the game just makes it laughable!!
November 19, 2013 - 7:12pm
I'm not partial to either team. But I am a BIG CFL fan. Two great teams, two great stories, both deserving of the ultimate trophy. Have a great game and may the better team "that day" win!!
November 19, 2013 - 5:16pm
Good luck to both teams. May the best team win. Best Grey Cup? We shall see.
November 19, 2013 - 4:32pm
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