With the Divisional Semi-Finals set to kickoff in just a few hours, there are nine possible Grey Cup matchups that could take place in Hamilton on December 12 and for the first time ever, there is something to like about every potential matchup.
In all the times I’ve ranked the possible Grey Cup matchups since I took over the gig from the esteemed Ian Busby, these were by far the toughest. If your particular favourite matchup ranks low, know that it is not because it isn’t a great matchup. It’s just not as great as the one ahead of it.
9. Calgary vs. Toronto
Last meeting: 2017, Toronto won 27-24
Other previous meeting(s): 2012, 1991, 1971
Overall record: Toronto, 3-1
One matchup had to come in last, and considering we have seen this game a couple of times recently, it felt reasonable to rank it last. I am sure the game would be a good game with Bo going for his third ring and the Argos looking to make the plethora of Ticats fans in attendance miserable, but aside from capping the trilogy there isn’t much here to love.
8. Saskatchewan vs. Toronto
Last meeting: 1997, Toronto won 47-23
Other previous meeting(s): None
Overall record: Toronto, 1-0
OK, so I maaaaaaay be a little biased as this is the absolute last game I want to have to sit in the stands to watch. I hate both teams and knowing one of them would be crowned champion would make me miserable for the entirety of the game. I just don’t want to watch this game, but I didn’t rank it last, so you can now be assured of my objectivity throughout the rest of the list.
7. Calgary vs. Hamilton
Last meeting: 2014, Calgary won 20-14
Other previous meetings: 1999, 1998
Overall record: Calgary, 2-1
If the Ticats hadn’t beaten the Stamps earlier this year, their first ever win over Calgary with Bo starting, then this likely ranks a little higher. It wasn’t a great game when these two teams met before and I wouldn’t anticipate the rematch being much better. The last team the Ticats beat to win a Grey Cup was the Stamps, so that gives this a little extra juice for the history aficionados.
6. Calgary vs. Montreal
Last meeting: 2008, Calgary won 22-14
Other previous meeting(s): 1970, 1949
Overall record: Montreal, 2-1
The last time two 3-seeds met in the Grey Cup was 1970 when the Stamps and Als met in Toronto. Montreal won that game 23-10, and it would be somewhat serendipitous if 51 years after they last met as 3-seeds, they met once again. The story heading into the game — with both teams having won a pair of road games — would give us a lot to talk about.
5. Saskatchewan vs. Montreal
Last meeting: 2010, Montreal won 21-18
Other previous meeting(s): 2009*
Overall record: Montreal 2-0*
(* for 1931 meeting between Montreal AAA Winged Wheelers and Regina Roughriders)
It has been over a decade and we still hear about the Riders’ 13th man in the ’09 title game. There isn’t a lot to sink your teeth into here, but Rider fans being forced to relive that moment for an entire week might make it worth the rest of us having to put up with the Riders being in the Grey Cup… Ok, probably not.
4. Winnipeg vs. Hamilton
Last meeting: 2019, Winnipeg won 33-12
Other previous meetings: 1984, 1965, 1962, 1961, 1959, 1958, 1957, 1953
Overall record: Winnipeg 6-3
For the first time ever this matchup does not top the list and there are a few reasons for that. Firstly, we saw this matchup in 2019 and it wasn’t very good. Secondly, the Bombers and Ticats game from way back in Week 1 was also not very good. These two teams just don’t tend to play entertaining games and after a year of mostly dull football, the last thing we want is another dud in the title game. It being one of the most storied Grey Cup rivalries and Hamilton’s quest for revenge are the reasons it ranks as high as it does, but unlike the last few years, this isn’t the best potential matchup.
3. Winnipeg vs. Montreal
Last meeting: Never
Other previous meeting(s): Never
Overall record: N/A
Now we get to the cream of the crop starting with this potential never-before-seen matchup. These two teams throughout their long histories have never met on the game’s biggest stage and it is the only potential matchup that no one has ever seen.
It would also be a mirror image of the most recent Grey Cup, with Winnipeg now in the favourite chair trying to fend off an upstart 3-seed looking to end their own long title drought. The Als also gave the Bombers a couple of tough games this year, so I think this could be a pretty entertaining game if these two teams meet.
2. Winnipeg vs. Toronto
Last meeting: 1950, Toronto won 13-0
Other previous meeting(s): 1947, 1946, 1945, 1938, 1937
Overall record: Toronto, 6-0
Chalk is usually boring and not something I rank highly, but given a trio of factors I had to put a potential Argos-Bombers matchup near the top. For starters, this matchup hasn’t happened since 1950, so there is a chance not a single person in attendance would have been alive when these two teams last clashed for the Grey Cup. Secondly, Winnipeg’s quest for their first back-to-back championships since 1961-62 would meet up against the Argos’ undefeated record against the Bombers in the Grey Cup. Thirdly, the Argos are the one team this year that gave Winnipeg trouble when the two teams met in Toronto in Week 3. It was the only loss Winnipeg suffered all season where they still had something to play for. Add that all up and you have one of the best potential Grey Cup matchups.
1. Saskatchewan vs. Hamilton
Last meeting: 2013, Saskatchewan won 45-23
Other previous meetings: 1989, 1972, 1967
Overall record: Tied, 2-2
I will admit that there is some sentimentality here. With the 2021 Grey Cup taking place in Hamilton, it would be neat if we had a repeat of the last Grey Cup game played in Hamilton where the Ticats were involved. The Ticats would also get to exact a measure of revenge by doing to the Riders what the Riders did to them back in 2013 in Regina. Also, given the recent passing of Angelo Mosca, the idea of this season ending with the exact same Grey Cup matchup that Mosca ended his career in would be the stuff for which movies are made.
Lastly, while this Grey Cup won’t be the same as we have seen — with COVID-19 restrictions making it a more subdued festival — having the two most rabid fan bases having their teams to support might make what would otherwise be a ho-hum week all the more interesting. When you stack a potential Ticats-Riders matchup against all the rest, it more than earns its place at the top.