Coming into this year’s edition of the Banjo Bowl, I expected the Riders to lose and for the Bombers to cover the spread, perhaps even easily.
But not that easily.
The rematch to the Labour Day Classic has often been a horror show for the green and white, sometimes even when they win. After the Riders pulled off the win last week, you knew the Bombers would come out angry.
Everything felt inevitable after a missed opening drive touchdown pass to Kian Shaffer-Baker. Score there and perhaps the Riders are in the game. Instead, they were forced to settle for a field goal, and the Bombers took over.
A win would have changed the narrative around this team dramatically. I don’t think a loss, even one as bad as this one, changes anything one way or the other. We knew they weren’t an elite team and they still aren’t.
At this point, Saskatchewan still controls its own destiny when it comes to finishing third in the West. It should be an intriguing race.
Here’s the good, the bad, and the dumb of the Riders’ sixth loss of the season.
There admittedly isn’t much to grasp at this game for the Riders, but if you had to take a positive from this game it’s that quarterback Jake Dolegala didn’t look fazed by the bright lights and loud noises of the Banjo Bowl.
You couldn’t dream up a more difficult first CFL road start than in Winnipeg this weekend, but you know what? He did OK.
Sure, Dolegala didn’t do much to help his team win this game, as they only mustered six points before the game was effectively over halfway through the second quarter, but he didn’t hurt his team either.
Dolegala did commit his first turnover as the team’s starting quarterback, but it was a fumble where the luck didn’t go his way. He once again didn’t throw an interception, completed most of his passes, and didn’t seem to be too bothered by the noise.
By no means am I suggesting that Dolegala was great or even good. He was just mostly irrelevant one way or the other and I didn’t see anything in this game to suggest that Dolegala shouldn’t remain the starting quarterback.
Everything and everybody else.
I think that goes without saying when a team loses 51-6 and fails to prevent the other team from scoring on even a single drive until the final minute of the game.
As mentioned, the general expectation was that the Riders would lose this game, for a myriad of reasons. As I like to say on the Green Cast, this was all about process over results. The odds were high that the Bombers would win and perhaps cover the spread quite easily, so it would come down to how the Riders looked.
I don’t need to tell you it wasn’t good.
They looked defeated early and were ready to head back to Regina in pretty quick order. It’s also troubling that this team has been defeated easily in back-to-back road games.
What you wanted to see out of this team was a sign of life, for them to make this game difficult for the Bombers. Had that happened, even without a victory, I think you could have felt like the Riders were heading in a good direction following their recent back-to-back wins over two of the league’s best teams.
Instead, we got a dud. Unlike the last one, they had the same amount of rest as their opponents and didn’t travel to B.C. and Halifax before it. There was no excuse.
Obviously, the Bombers deserve all the credit for how they played. They were hands down the better team and were always going to be. You just wanted to see more out of the Green and White.
When both teams are basically going through the motions for half of the game, it leads to a pretty boring affair.
Nothing fun or different happened in this game, generally speaking. I’m sure Bomber fans will disagree but in terms of what meets the definition of this section, we didn’t see any trick plays or general chaos. Just dominant football.
That feeling extended to Twitter — or whatever we’re calling it now — where fans had some fun guessing what head coach Craig Dickenson said at the half.
— Rider fan (@GreyCupBound) September 9, 2023
I’m thinking of trying shawarma tonight for the first time. Any of you guys tried it?
— Dave Wardle (@BCCardiacKid) September 9, 2023
"I've got a perposal for you, and no it's not a pyramid scheme"
— Corey Allan (@Corey_A_Proctor) September 9, 2023
Does anyway have any Subway left over?
— Gavin Stewart (@geestwie) September 9, 2023
Leftover Subway? I shudder at the thought.
It’s always good to laugh, even if it’s at your own expense.