An­other nail-biter awaits in Ot­tawa

Rid­ers-Red­blacks se­ries has been close all year long

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - SPORTS - — Rob Van­stone

SUN­DAY, NOON Saskatchewan at Ot­tawa

Saskatchewan will op­pose Ot­tawa in the play­offs for the first time since the 1976 Grey Cup game — won 23-20 by the Ot­tawa Rough Rid­ers on a last-minute touch­down catch by Tony Gabriel. The lat­est matchup is Saskatchewan’s first play­off game in Ot­tawa since the 1967 Grey Cup, in which the Hamil­ton Tiger-Cats downed the Roughrid­ers 24-1 at Lans­downe Park. Now, which team — the Roughrid­ers or the Red­blacks — will be his­tory as far as the 2017 sea­son is con­cerned? Sim­ply put, the Roughrid­ers are stronger all around as ev­i­denced by their 108-0 reg­u­lar-sea­son record. Ot­tawa re­ceived a home play­off game de­spite its 8-9-1 mark. Watch for a nail-biter, con­sid­er­ing that Saskatchewan and Ot­tawa split the sea­son se­ries with each team win­ning on the road by one point. The Red­blacks’ quar­ter­back­ing sit­u­a­tion is more set­tled thanks to the pres­ence of Trevor Har­ris. Kevin Glenn is the Roughrid­ers’ starter, but head coach Chris Jones has been prone to re­plac­ing the 38-year-old veteran with Bran­don Bridge — of­ten at a very early junc­ture in the game. The ap­proach is un­con­ven­tional, but it seems to work. Jones is a de­fen­sive guru and the sus­pi­cion here is that he will some­how find a way to limit the Red­blacks’ of­fence, which is with­out home­brew re­ceiver Brad Si­nop­oli. Saskatchewan by one

SUN­DAY, 3:30 P.M. Ed­mon­ton at Win­nipeg

The Eski­mos en­ter the play­offs as the league’s hottest team, hav­ing won five in a row. It has been a topsy-turvy year for Ed­mon­ton, which won its first seven games, lost the next six and then won the fol­low­ing five. The Eski­mos boast a star-stud­ded of­fence that is led by quar­ter­back Mike Reilly, who is the best bet to win the CFL’s most out­stand­ing player award. His re­ceiv­ing corps — Bran­don Zyl­stra, Adar­ius Bow­man, Vi­dal Hazel­ton and Derel Walker — is the league’s best and all-pur­pose tail­back C.J. Gable is also dan­ger­ous. The Eski­mos also have the lux­ury of fac­ing a Bombers de­fence that has been por­ous dur­ing the lat­ter stages of the sea­son. An­other is­sue will be the health of Bombers quar­ter­back Matt Ni­chols, who sat out the reg­u­larsea­son fi­nale as a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure. When last seen in game ac­tion, Ni­chols ag­gra­vated a calf in­jury with­out even be­ing hit. The Bombers will need a huge game from their multi-tal­ented tail­back An­drew Har­ris. Win­nipeg has the lux­ury of home-field ad­van­tage at In­vestors Group Field, where the Bombers’ fans will make them­selves heard, but ul­ti­mately the Eski­mos will make the most noise. Ed­mon­ton by five

Last week: 3-1 Over­all: 54-23

RICK ELVIN/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Bran­don Bridge will look to spell Kevin Glenn if he fal­ters on Sun­day.

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