Seven things to watch during the Riders/Bombers Labour Day Classic

This is it for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Considering the state of their season, Sunday’s Labour Day Classic could be the shining moment of the Riders season, their last at the current Mosaic Stadium. With just one win through the first half of the regular season, the odds of the Riders making the playoffs this year are about as good as the Atlantic Schooners competing for the Grey Cup.

With that in mind, here’s seven things (it’s a special game, so why not one more?) to watch from a Riders perspective.

The last hurrah? 

As mentioned, this game marks the last time the Riders and Bombers will play at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field. In all, the Bombers have travelled down the Trans-Canada highway to take on the Riders 52 times since 1949 on Labour Day Sunday. When you consider the state of the Riders season, this will likely be the last game of any importance at 1910 Piffles Taylor Way. If you’re at the game, soak it all in, because the stadium may never rock the same again before the team moves across the street next year. It should come as no surprise, the game is sold-out.

The streak

The only thing coming into this game working in the Riders favour is the fact the green team has won this game 11 times in a row. The Bombers do come in as the favourites having won four games in a row. However, Winnipeg has been the favourites before and still found a way to lose. It just seems to be one of those things. At the same time, Cleveland finally won a major sports championship, Portugal finally won a big soccer title and the Chicago Cubs appears to be World Series favourites. 2016 is proving anything is possible.

Darian Durant

It seems odd to be suggesting this, but yes, Durant is one to watch. Durant has yet to lose a Labour Day Classic, throwing for 1,466 yards and 11 touchdowns in six wins. Durant has always been one to show well in big moments and there’s no reason to believe he won’t do everything he can again against the Bombers. There’s also a chance this could be Durant’s last Labour Day with the Riders with his contract expiring at the end of the year and plenty of talk about his future in Saskatchewan.

Weston returns

For the first time since being released in the offseason, Weston Dressler will return to where he had played his entire CFL career to date. Dressler has said mostly the right things this week, unlike John Chick who admitted he was looking forward to facing the Riders after the way his released went down. There’s no doubt that Rider Nation will give Dressler a big ovation either pre-game or the first time he’s announced on the field. After that, who knows? It will be an odd sight and feeling for all involved.

Newly-signed Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Weston Dressler speaks to media in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 27, 2016. Dressler has signed a two-year contract with the Bombers after several years of hauling in passes for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Newly-signed Winnipeg Blue Bombers receiver Weston Dressler speaks to media in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 27, 2016. Dressler has signed a two-year contract with the Bombers after several years of hauling in passes for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

Andrew Harris

Last week, Shakir Bell shredded the Riders defence to the tune of 138 yards rushing. Bell was making his first start of the season, Harris currently leads the CFL with 575 yards rushing and is poised to make that number grow this week against defence that is he worst in the league.

Khalif Mitchell

Yes, the newest Rider isn’t playing this week after signing with the Riders earlier this week. Plenty has been said about the signing, which has gone over like a lead balloon for the most part in Riderville. If there was ever a time for some other interior linemen to step up and have a big game, keeping Mitchell off the game day roster, now would be the time.

Naaman watch

One of the bright spots for the Riders this year has been the play of second year receiver Naaman Roosevelt. The Buffalo native is on pace to break Joey Walters single season receiving yards record of 1,715 yards. Now, Walters set that record in 16 games but you can only play by the rules as they currently are. Roosevelt has surpassed 100 yards receiving four times this year, including a season high 182 in the team’s only win over Ottawa, and has been kept below 50 yards just once.




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