The Saskatchewan Roughriders managed to pull off a gutsy win Thursday night in Winnipeg beating the Blue Bombers 23-17.
The Riders had a short week, an extended road trip and problems off the field. The team also had 17 penalties in the game, some of which kept the Bombers' drives alive.
Somehow, the Riders still pulled off an ugly game at a sold-out Investors Group Field.
Despite its size compared to other sports franchises, the Saskatchewan Roughriders still have one of the most recognizable sports brands in Canada.
Insightrix Research Inc. recently asked more than 2,600 sports fans online questions about different teams and how fans perceived them. The Riders had the third strongest brand among sports franchises in Canada. The Montreal Canadiens had the strongest while the Toronto Maple Leafs had the second strongest.
In recent years it has really not been easy being a Blue Bomber fan, particularly not when you live in Rider Nation.
The Roughriders face the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg for the first of three regular season games, but not all football fans in Saskatchewan will be cheering for the green and white.
Dennis Dyck was born in Winnipeg and raised in southern Manitoba, but he has lived in Yorkton since the 80s.
“It’s been a very difficult last couple of years, it really has,” he said.
The Riders close out their two-game road trip tonight in Winnipeg against the 5-1 Blue Bombers.
Attached are the depth chart for both teams. Printable versions can be found at the bottom of the page.
The Riders have yet to sell out a game this season, and there's nowhere near the hype from last year's Grey Cup win, but this week's matchup in Winnipeg might be just the thing to re-energize Rider Nation.
For the first time since 2005, Saskatchewan will meet Winnipeg three times in the regular season. And fans seem pretty confident their team will come through with a win.
"I think we're a confident team and that takes us a long way," said one woman. "They're no contest for us! They're our biggest competitors, but we seem to pull through when it needs to happen."
The Riders are facing a huge test Thursday night as they battle the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Manitoba capital.
The team's mental toughness will be put to the test having been on the road for nearly a week. Because of the quick turnaround between the games in Ottawa and Winnipeg, the coaching staff decided it was best to stay in the nation's capital for practice this week rather than come back to the Queen City.
Before there was "Willypeg," Drew Willy was hard at work in Saskatchewan trying to become a starting quarterback in the CFL.
Willy came to the CFL at the start of the 2012 season and wasn't in the conversation a whole lot when it came to the Riders back-up quarterback position. However, Willy quickly changed that with his play in the pre-season.
Willy says his success in that job actually started in Florida.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders will be without receiver Taj Smith when they face the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Thursday evening.
For the first time since week one, the Riders are back over the .500 mark.
As they did against the Argos last week, the Riders came out flying and scored early with a mix of strong play from the offence and suffocating defence riding 24 points in the opening 15 minutes, beating the RedBlacks 38-14.
"We could have finished a little better, but we did start fast," said head coach Corey Chamblin. "I thought we did a good job as a team."
Offence comes to life
The Riders will try to climb back above the .500 mark in Ottawa as they take on the RedBlacks.
Attached are the depth charts for both teams, printable versions can be found at the bottom of the page.