Friday, September 21, 7:00 p.m.
Broadcasts available: Radio – www.ck750.com (pregame show at 6:30 p.m.)
TV – Shaw (channel 10 in Saskatoon, channel 303 in HD) and Shaw Direct (channels 299 and 407).
**Program alert: The Outsider TV pre-game show will be broadcasting live on Friday, from the alumni patio of the Graham Huskie clubhouse. The show will begin at 5:45 pm, and run until about 6:20 pm. Visit www.HuskieOutsider.com to watch the program.
Records coming in: Huskies: 2-1, third in Canada West, won 39-34 over UBC last week (ranked seventh in the FRC-CIS Football Top Ten); Regina: 2-1, fourth in the Canada West, won 31-17 over Alberta last week (ranked ninth in the FRC-CIS Football Top Ten).
Head to head history: Saskatchewan has 13 regular season wins to Regina’s four since 2002. The Huskies have two wins to Regina’s one in the playoffs over the same period.
Head coaches: Saskatchewan: Brian Towriss (29th year): 145-81-1, .641 winning percentage; Frank McCrystal (14th year): 51-55-1, .481 winning percentage.
What’s on the line: A possible second or first place finish and home playoff game in the first round of the playoffs could be on the line. In the tight Canada West, and with the Huskies playing the Rams and Dinos only once each this year, the results of both those games will likely determine where they finish.
Just as importantly, for some, is winning a game against the other team in the province. Although the Dinos, Bisons and Golden Bears have been the Huskies’ real rivals over the past decade (during which the Huskies have made the playoffs each year, finishing first five times), there are still few things more satisfying for Saskatoon football fans than beating the Rams.
Key matchup:The Huskies have had success throwing the ball this season, passing for 848 yards and five touchdowns through three games, they did much of that against the rebuilding secondaries of the Alberta Golden Bears and the UBC Thunderbirds. This week will be the Huskie offence’s biggest challenge yet, facing a Rams secondary that has three fifth-year veterans and a fourth-year safety, including former all-Canadian cornerback Jamir Walker.
First-year quarterback Drew Burko has been poised and calm in the pocket, and this will need to continue against a good Rams defence. This won’t be easy, with starters like Garrett Burgess and Jeff Moore missing from the Huskies receiving corps, but the opportunities will still be there to put up yards and points if he doesn’t get rattled by the Rams.
Roster moves: The Huskies will welcome Shane Buchanan to the lineup for the first time since the non-conference game against the Guelph Gryphons. Rover Seamus Neary is expected to make the roster for the first time this season, as well. Linebacker Dane Bishop will sit out one more game, while receiver Jeff Moore will miss the next two games and will likely return after Thanksgiving. Dexter Janke, Garrett Burgess and Glen Joorisity remain out of the lineup.
The Rams come in with a few key injuries, notably to receiver Mark McConkey, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Fellow receivers Addison Richards and Jason Price have been out of recent games, while defensive tackle Stefan Charles recently had surgery on his thumb that kept him out of the game against Alberta. He may be back for this game, although he will have to play with a cast. Receiver Ian Miller, the former Saskatoon Hilltop, left the team after the second game of the season.
What to expect: With over 20 fifth-year players on their roster, this may be the Rams best chance to pull off a win in Saskatchewan’s largest city. Since they joined the CIS in 1999, visits to Griffiths Stadium have not been kind to the Rams, with only one win, a 34-31 decision in 2007, to show for 10 games against the Huskies.
The Rams will throw everything they have at the Huskies to pull out a win in front of the Huskies’ huge home crowd, but the Huskies have a pretty good team to answer the Rams with. If the first three weeks of the season are any indication, both teams are evenly matched, in spite of the Huskies’ relative inexperience at quarterback, running back and linebacker.
So far, the Rams have scored 101 points to the Huskies 99, while Regina averages 438 yards of offence per game to Saskatchewan’s 413. On defence, the situation is flipped, with the Huskies giving up 65 points and average of 395 yards per game to Regina’s 74 points and average of 435 yards per game. These teams are very close and this game should be a battle on both sides of the ball, with many lead changes likely.
Playing at home with a larger roster and a large, vocal home crowd behind them should benefit the Huskies, although I’m sure the Rams are preparing for the noise and east-side distractions. Nonetheless, the large crowd, the fireworks, the rowdy students and increased intensity of the Huskies at home typically catches most teams off guard, as it’s unlike any other stadium and gameday experience in the CIS.
Hopefully the home field advantage pays off for the Huskies, as this is the only meeting between these teams this season. A win against the Rams could have huge playoff implications for the Huskies, as it could be the difference between hosting a playoff game or hitting the road for the Canada West semi-final round.
It is vitally important you join 8,000 fellow Huskie fans (and 50 Rams fans) at Griffiths Stadium this Friday for the biggest football game of the year and the annual Running of the Togas! Get your tickets early at huskies.usask.ca, by calling 966-1111 or by visiting the ticket booth behind the climbing wall on the second floor of the PAC.
Go, Dogs, go!