Bombers should give Roughriders a fight
Winnipeg Blue Bombers SB Cory Watson takes part in a walk-through on Sat., Sept. 8, 2012, at Canad Inns Stadium in preparation for Sunday's Banjo Bowl football game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. (JASON HALSTEAD/QMI Agency)
Based on history, the Banjo Bowl can go one of two ways for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
It's not every day a team gets blown out by 52 points and gets shut out for the first time in 43 years, as the Bombers did in last week's Labour Day Classic against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In fact, CFL games have been decided by 52 points or more only 12 times on 5,137 occasions since 1907. That works out to one big blowout every nine years.
The Bombers have been on the wrong end of four of those, including a whopping three since 1995.
Getting destroyed is one thing; it's what happens the following week that says a lot about a football team, and Winnipeg has been on both ends of the spectrum.
The last time the Bombers got stomped was a 64-10 loss to the host Edmonton Eskimos on Sept. 15, 1995. Four days later they had to play in Calgary and got creamed once again, 43-28, in a contest that featured Milt Stegall's first career touchdown catch.
Two weeks before that Saskatchewan demolished Winnipeg 56-4, coincidentally enough, in the 1995 Labour Day Classic. One week later the Bombers showed some pride in the rematch with the Riders and pulled out a 25-24 victory at home.
In Winnipeg's five previous biggest blowout losses, it has bounced back for a victory twice. The other three times it gave up an average of 48 points.
So which way will the Bombers go on Sunday afternoon? Based on how they played in the two games before last week's humiliation, the Blue and Gold should give the Riders more of a fight. And considering how embarrassed they claim to be after last week, the rematch with the Riders should be tightly contested.
"We'll definitely find out the character of the team," linebacker Marcellus Bowman said Saturday.
The bottom line is the anger that has been swirling around Manitoba for the last week can be erased with a victory on Sunday. The Bombers would be back within two points of a playoff spot and the Labour Day Classic would be forgotten.
Bowman, however, doesn't want the LDC to be forgotten. He wants the beating to be in the back of his team's collective brain for the rest of the campaign.
"It's important that we remember that if we don't do what we need to do, we could end up in that situation again," Bowman said. "(A win) is going to ease the pain and it's going to get us on the right track, but I don't think we should forget that we got beat 52-0, because that was humiliating.
"That type of humiliation should be remembered so that it doesn't happen again."
The Riders, who are last in the West Division at 4-5, snapped a five-game losing streak with last week's decisive triumph, which is why head coach Corey Chamblin isn't worried about his team looking past the Blue and Gold.
"If we were a team that had seven, eight, nine wins right now then I'd be worried about a letdown," Chamblin said. "We're still fighting for our lives also, because it's still close with the other teams. So guys realize what we have in front of us."