The CFL season is coming to its conclusion… there are Huskers involved. It’s bloody cold up in Canada right now – and spare me your Canada-is-cold jokes because those are trash – and football season is in the dwindling stages.
In the Canadian Football League, after you work 18 weeks, if you’re lucky, you get to work a few more.
The post-season is upon the league up north with division semifinals slated for this weekend and, all tolled, seven people with Huskers ties attached to franchises will be playing in the second season.
In Sunday’s early game, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will head to Ottawa to take on Jonathan Rose, Brett Maher and the Redblacks in the East Division semifinal. Ottawa earned the home-field advantage by finishing second in the East, while Saskatchewan, a West Division team, crosses over into the East by virtue of finishing fourth in the West.
The CFL playoff format is such that the top three teams from each division make the post-season, but if a fourth-place team from one division has a better record than the third-place team from the other division, it will cross over and earn that division’s third berth.
In the second semifinal on Sunday, the No. 2 in the West, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Jermarcus Hardrick, will take on the Edmonton Eskimos, who bring former Husker Barron Miles to town as the club’s defensive backs coach.
The East winner will move on to play the Toronto Argonauts in the division final, while the West semi winner will play at Calgary in the West final.
Here’s a look at this weekend’s two-game slate
EAST DIVISION SEMIFINAL
Saskatchewan at Ottawa, Noon Central, ESPN3
Saskatchewan’s loss to Edmonton in the regular-season finale relegated the Roughriders to fourth after a 10-8 season, but the Riders may have gotten the better end of that deal.
Rather than going through the wicked West, Saskatchewan heads to the nation’s capital and faces an Ottawa team that finished 8-9-1 on the year.
The Redblacks, however, go into the game having won three of their last four, including a 33-32 triumph over Saskatchewan on Oct. 13. In fact, Sunday’s semifinal will mark the third time in the Redblacks have faced Saskatchewan in their past five games. The teams split their two meetings this season.
Another quirk? Because Ottawa had bye weeks in Weeks 18 and 20, the Redblacks come into the game having played only two games in the past month.
The Redblacks bring Rose and Maher, as well as running backs coach Beau Walker, who spent 2015 as a graduate assistant to Huskers coach Mike Riley.
Maher hit on 82 per cent (41 of 50) of his field goals this season, with a long of 53. He also finished second in the league with a 46.7-yard average on his punts, with a long of 70, in playing a steadying role in the Ottawa special teams.
Rose, meanwhile, grew into one of Ottawa’s most important defensive players, notching 55 tackles, two interceptions, a forced fumble and two recoveries in playing 17 of 18 games. In two seasons in Canada, Rose now has 108 tackles and three picks in 33 games.
WEST DIVISION SEMIFINAL
Edmonton at Winnipeg, 3:30 p.m. Central, ESPN3
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers limp into the post-season with question marks surrounding their starting quarterback.
Thanks to a win at Calgary in the Week 20 season finale, the Bombers finished 12-6 and beat Edmonton on a tiebreaker to secure second place and a home playoff game. And they did so in frigid conditions, with temperatures dipping to -9 F with the windchill.
It’s not likely to be that bad this week, but cold conditions are likely to greet them again, with a forecast of 25 F expected at game time.
Hardrick, who was questionable in Week 19 but suited up and has since extended his games-played streak to 28 straight, is likely to once again start at right tackle for Winnipeg.
Hardrick has been a fan and team favourite, and has helped anchor an offensive line that helped running back Andrew Harris win the league’s rushing title with 1,035 yards. Harris also led the league in receptions with 105, breaking the 32-year-old CFL record for receptions by a running back with 105.
The Bombers enter the game having beaten Edmonton twice this season, but will do so with quarterback Matt Nichols still questionable to play after getting injured in Week 19.
ELSEWHERE
Calgary and Toronto will sit back and await who wins this week before hosting the respective divisional finals. In Calgary, the status of Ciante Evans will be one to monitor. The Stampeders defensive back, who had a breakout season, played with an injured shoulder in Week 19 and sat out the Week 20 loss with Calgary having nothing of note to play for. At this point, it would be shocking to not see Evans suit up next weekend.
The news isn’t as glowing for the former Husker in Toronto, Josh Mitchell, who has missed almost every minute of this season after getting injured in Week 1. Technically Mitchell, currently on the team’s six-game injured list (a misnomer given that players can stay on much longer than six games), could be eligible to return in time for the East Final. Mitchell is on the six-game list until Nov. 18. The East Final would go Nov. 19.
Canadians for Nebraska is a group of Husker fans in Canada not affiliated with the University of Nebraska. It can be found on Twitter @CdnsForNebraska.

Source: Corn Nation