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Inside the CFL: Two dream matchups

By Ted Michaels, CFL Columnist

Hamilton, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - I know the CFL, and its broadcast partner, TSN, would never admit it, or at least publicly, but they got what they wanted.

Two division finals, with teams that despise each other. In each case, the number one team is hosting the second-place team.

The ratings should be through the roof, if you pardon the pun.

For the first time since 1986, the Eastern Final will see two arch-rivals meeting at Rogers Center in Toronto. And yes, the dome will be closed.

The last time the Hamilton Tiger-Cats played the Toronto Argos in the final was 1986, and back then, it was a two-game total-point series.

The Argos won the first game in Hamilton 31-17, then, took that 14-point lead into game two at old Exhibition Stadium. By the second quarter, the Argos led the series by 26 points.

But, the Tiger-Cats roared back, and in a classic "one for the ages" game, beat Toronto 42-25, to take the series 59-56, thus sending them to the Grey Cup, where they beat Edmonton.

This year's Eastern Final could also be "one for the ages."

Two offensive-minded teams, in perfect conditions.

The 10-8 Tiger-Cats took the season series 2-1 from the 11-7 Argos, after losing the season opener 39-34 in Toronto.

If the numbers that were put up that night are any indication, this could be a doozy.

The teams combined for 936 yards of total offence with Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray and Hamilton's pivot Henry Burris combining for 729 yards and seven touchdowns and no interceptions.

To add the story lines, both coaches are unbeaten in the playoffs.

Toronto's Scott Milanovich, is 3-0. In 2012, his first year as Argos head honcho, saw his team beat Edmonton and Montreal in the playoffs, before beating Calgary in front of a home crowd to win the Grey Cup.

Hamilton's Kent Austin is also 3-0. In 2007, his lone year as Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach, he lead his team to playoff wins against Calgary and BC, then, ironically at the Rogers Center, when his Saskatchewan Roughriders beat Winnipeg in the Grey Cup. Austin then went on to coach in the NCAA before returning to Hamilton this season.

Out west, the 14-4 Calgary Stampeders host the 11-7 Saskatchewan Roughriders. With all due respect to the BC Lions, this one is a match made in heaven.

Just ask Calgary head coach John Hufnagel.

"It will be an exciting stadium on Sunday. It will be capacity or close to capacity because we're playing Saskatchewan."

The Rider nation will be out in full force. Saskatchewan fans, who normally travel to most of the Rider road games, think nothing of making the 471-mile drive westwards to McMahon Stadium.

Any time these two teams meet, the stadium is electric, with the Red and White clad Calgary fans trying to drown out the Green and White, watermelon-headed, Rider fans.

The Stampeders took the season series 2-1, with both wins coming at home. After the October 26 game, a 29-25 win by Calgary, Rider defensive back Dwight Anderson issued his famous quote, "We're coming here, and we're going to beat them. Period. We're the better team. Calgary (stinks)!"

Anything to add to that this week, Dwight?

"Nah, we ain't even gonna go there," said a smiling Anderson. "They're the best team right now. They're the No. 1 team. The records are out. They got the bye. They're sitting at home right now. They watched us (play in the semi- final against BC.) Give them the respect where respect is due. They deserve that because they put the work in.

"We're the second-place team, and we gotta go out there and prove why we deserve to be in the Grey Cup."

The fact that the Grey Cup is being played at Mosaic Stadium in Regina just adds to the storyline.

Just imagine...the Riders host the Grey Cup, against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, led by their former head coach and quarterback, Kent Austin.

I know what you're thinking.

Will it happen?

Yep.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause?

11/13 00:54:23 ET

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