What to know for this weekend’s CFL and U Sports football playoffs

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Matchups for the 109th Gray Cup and the National College Semifinals will all be decided this weekend. Here’s what to know about the CFL and U Sports playoffs:

CFL: It is the MOP against the MOP which could have been

Nathan Rourke could have been a candidate. In nine games of his first season as a professional starter, the 24-year-old led the CFL in every major passing category and propelled the BC Lions to an 8-1 record. He was the favorite to become the first Canadian to win the Most Outstanding Player award since Jon Cornish in 2013. Then a serious foot injury derailed Rourke’s rise and ruled him out of the final nine games in the league. BC’s regular season, except for an appearance in the final in Winnipeg.

Rourke returned to the starting role for last week’s playoff game against Calgary and threw for an impressive 321 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-16 home win. But the footing still looks awkward, and now Rourke has to go on the road – not to mention the outside, in cold weather, in front of a hostile crowd – to take on the toughest defense in the league as BC surrenders. in Winnipeg for the West Division final on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

This game is billed as the quarterback of the future against the quarterback of the moment, as Blue Bombers veteran Zach Collaros is favored to win his second consecutive Most Outstanding Player award. The 34-year-old finished with over 4,000 passing yards for the first time, threw a CFL-high 37 touchdown passes, and led Winnipeg to a 15-3 record and one pass in the first round.

Collaros and the Bombers are four-point favorites against the Lions and are also favorites to win their third straight Gray Cup. No CFL team has broken three records since Edmonton won five in a row from 1978 to 1982.

The winner of the Winnipeg-BC matchup will play for the Gray Cup next week in Regina against the winner of the East Final between Montreal and Toronto on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

The host Argonauts are favored with a field goal after winning their relatively weak division with an 11-7 record to earn a first-round bye. Toronto’s average offense could be boosted by the return of Canadian running back Andrew Harris. The 2019 Gray Cup MVP (with Winnipeg) is set to play for the first time since tearing a pectoral muscle in August. The ball-selling Argos defense will look to continue creating turnovers after leading the CFL with 48 games to go, including six league-high interceptions from Jamal Peters.

Peters and company will try to rein in Montreal’s star receiver Eugene Lewis, who earned the East’s MVP nomination after amassing 1,303 yards receiving and catching 10 touchdowns. He added seven catches for 98 yards in last week’s 28-17 playoff win over Hamilton. With the win, Montreal improved to 8-3 from a brutal 2-6 start to the season that saw Trevor Harris take over as quarterback for the bench Vernon Adams Jr., and Danny Maciocia replacing the fired Khari Jones as head coach.

U Sports: Can anyone stop Western?

A victory in one of the four Canadian University Conference finals on Saturday puts a team one win away from reaching the 57th Vanier Cup. That game will take place Nov. 26 on West Campus, and right now the school in London, Ont., looks like a good bet to play for a repeat of the national championship in its own backyard.

Powered by a rushing offense averaging 292 yards per game and 8.2 yards per carry, the No. 1-ranked Mustangs went 8-0 in the regular season while outscoring opponents by more than 30 points in mean. In its first playoff game last week, Western took a 45-9 win over Laurier as national rushing leader Keon Edwards rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Western’s opponent in the Ontario Yates Cup championship game is No. 3 ranked Queen’s, which went 7-1 in the regular season before easy playoff wins over Toronto and Ottawa. Watch the Yates Cup live Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

The Yates Cup winner will advance to next week’s Mitchell Cup national semi-final, where he will face the winner of the Dunsmore Cup Quebec title match on Saturday between Laval (2nd) and Montreal (5th). Winners of Saturday’s Atlantic Championship (#6 St. FX vs. #10 Mount Allison in the Loney Bowl) and Western Championship (#4 Saskatchewan vs. #9 UBC in the Hardy Cup) meet in the Uteck Bowl national semi-final next week.

Two weeks out from the Vanier Cup, CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo revisits the classic 1993 game for the latest installment in his excellent Unknown History series. Eleven months after the University of Toronto scrapped its legendary football program, the Varsity Blues – saved by donations from alumni – made a sports film ending by beating Calgary in a SkyDome thriller that ended by the final piece. Find out the whole story by watching the video here.

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