The Calgary Stampeders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats meet in the Grey Cup Sunday at B.C. Place in Vancouver.
Here are five storylines to watch heading into the big game:
Grey Cup Drought – Both teams will be looking to end Grey Cup dry spells. The Stampeders last won a championship in 2008, head coach/GM John Hufnagel’s first with the club. The Ticats have to go all the way back to ’99 for their last CFL title, which coincidentally came against Calgary at Vancouver. Both teams also lost in their last Grey Cup appearance, with Calgary falling to Toronto in the 100th Grey Cup at Rogers Centre in 2012 and Hamilton dropping last year’s contest to Saskatchewan at Mosaic Stadium.
Swan Song? – A perennial all-star over his 11-year career in Calgary, Lewis had just 37 catches for 377 yards and no TDs this season. There were times the 32-year-old was a healthy scratch. After eight straight 1,000-yard seasons, Lewis has combined for 69 catches for 777 yards and three TDs the last two years, but to be fair his 2013 season was marred by fractured fibula that limited him to just seven games. There will be persistent talk this week about whether the Grey Cup game will be Lewis’s final one in a Calgary uniform.
Grey Cup Rookies – Both Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell andHamilton’s Zach Collaros are in the Grey Cup as first-year starters. Mitchell led the Stampeders to a pair of regular-season wins over the Ticats but Collaros didn’t play in either game due to concussion symptoms. Hamilton’s offence is more potent with the versatile Collaros, who is an accurate passer but also mobile enough to escape pressure and buy himself time to pass or head upfield. Mitchell helped lead Calgary to a league-best 15-3 record and his eight interceptions were the fewest among CFL starters.
Kent Austin Show – Not only does Austin have the Ticats in the Grey Cup for a second straight year, he’s in the CFL title game for the third time as a head coach. Austin led Saskatchewan to the ’07 championship in his first season as a CFL head coach before heading to the NCAA. He returned to the CFL last season with Hamilton but his ’13 campaign ended with a 45-23 Grey Cup loss to the Riders at Mosaic Stadium.
Will They Come? – For the first time in four years, the Grey Cup host city won’t have its team in the big game. It remains to be seen how excited Vancouver will be this week without the B.C. Lions to cheer for. Less than a week before the opening kickoff, the game still wasn’t officially sold out.