September 8, 2023

Game Preview | Banjo Bowl

Scene setter: 

The Banjo Bowl is always the marquee event on the Blue Bombers home schedule – regular season home schedule – and given the emotion perhaps still boiling from last week’s Labour Day Classic, this should be an absolute slobber-knocker.

The Riders’ 32-30 overtime win last week ended a Blue Bombers five-game win streak and featured an ugly incident in the fourth quarter when defensive end Pete Robertson head-butted Zach Collaros after the whistle. Robertson received a one-game suspension from the league, and it could make for riveting drama to see if that amps up the angst level in this one even further.

*Note: a win this weekend would clinch a playoff spot for the Blue Bombers for a seventh straight season, their longest run since a 17-year streak ended in 1997.

The Basics

Kickoff: Saturday, 3 p.m. CDT; IG Field
U.S. and international live streaming:
Radio: 680 CJOB
Last meeting: September 3, 2023: Roughriders 32 Blue Bombers 30 (OT) Last week’s win by the Riders ended a four-game Blue Bombers winning streak against the two rivals that dated back to the 2019 Western Final. This is the third and final regular season meeting between the two clubs, with Winnipeg having won the first game 45-27 back on June 16th.

PlayNow odds:  The Blue Bombers are favoured by 8.5 points. For more betting options on this game, click here.

Play Now

Take note:

Blue Bombers and Canadian Football Hall of Famer James Murphy will be added to the club’s Ring of Honour at halftime. Murphy played for the club from 1982-90 and, upon his retirement, was the club’s all-time leading receiver, having since been passed by Milt Stegall. The CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 1986, Murphy was a three-time Grey Cup champion with the Blue Bombers (1984, 1988, 1990) and was the MVP of the ’88 championship. To read more about Murphy, check out this story from last month.

Take note II:

Chris Streveler, one of the most popular players to pull on a Blue Bombers jersey in recent years, will be attending this year’s Banjo Bowl and will be signing autographs on Saturday in the Princess Auto Tailgate.

Banjo Bowl numbers:

This will mark the 19th edition of the Banjo Bowl, with the Blue Bombers holding an 11-7 advantage all time. The Blue Bombers have won six of the last seven Banjo Bowls including last year’s 54-20 victory in which they scored touchdowns on their first four possessions.

A year-by-year look at the Banjo Bowl

An Oral History of how the Banjo Bowl was born

The QBs

  • Winnipeg will start Zach Collaros behind centre. He is 69-39 in his CFL career and 10-4 all-time vs. the Riders.
  • Saskatchewan will start Jake Dolegala, who began the season as their No. 3 pivot. Dolegala is now 2-1 in his three career starts, including last week’s win over the Blue Bombers.

The Coaches

Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 91-61. O’Shea’s 90 wins as Blue Bombers head coach now ranks him second all-time in franchise history behind only Grant (102). O’Shea’s teams are 14-10 vs. Saskatchewan in the regular season.
Saskatchewan: Craig Dickenson is 34-27 during his days as the Roughriders head coach and 3-7 in reguar season games vs. the Blue Bombers.

Blue Bomber Roster Notes

The Blue Bombers have made two changes to their depth chart this week, bringing on LB Malik Clements and receiver Jeremy Murphy. Off are RB/WR Greg McCrae and FB Konner Burtenshaw.

“We just needed to make a move,” said O’Shea of the Clements-for-McCrae decision. “And with the number of touches (McCrae) was getting we had to put Malik up and see if we could get more production on special teams. (Clements) was playing really well (before he was injured). He really was. He’s tough, hard-nosed, flies around. A player you want on the field.”

This will be the second game in Murphy’s career. He was on the roster for the Blue Bombers win in Montreal on Canada Day and was selected in the third round, 26th overall, in this year’s CFL Draft.

Of note: WR/KR Janarion Grant, who had begun running again last week, has been extended on the six-game injured list, retroactive to September 2nd. The injured list now also features LBs Shayne Gauthier and Jared Beeksma, Dime Alden Darby, Jr., DE Thiadric Hansen, FB Mile Miller and CB Desmond Lawrence – all on the six-game.

Blue Bomber Spotlight: Adam Bighill

Winnipeg’s veteran middle linebacker leads the club in total defensive plays with 64, coming on 57 defensive tackles, four sacks and three tackles for losses. He has moved into sixth place on the CFL’s all-time tackles list this year at 874, 81 behind Barrin Simpson for fifth overall.

Here’s Bighill on the rematch with the Riders, the poise shown by Dolegala and being at home:

Scouting the Roughriders

The Riders, now 6-5, have forced themselves into the discussion about the CFL’s elite squads with their last two wins coming over B.C. and the Blue Bombers and with the emergence of Dolagala as intriguing QB prospect.

Some numbers that are important in that respect: he has not thrown an interception in 68 passes in his two starts and also tossed three touchdowns. Saskatchewan ranks sixth in offensive points at 20.8 (Wpg is second at 29.8) and ninth in points allowed at 27.5 (Wpg is second at 21.4).


The Blue Bombers have not lost two consecutive meaningful games – games in which they hadn’t already locked up a playoff position and rested some starters – since September-October of 2019. That was a stretch before the club traded for Zach Collaros and he was given his first start. Worth noting: the Blue Bombers are 6-0 in games Collaros has started after a loss.


  • Kenny Lawler had seven catches for 209 yards in the win over B.C. last month. In the four games since he has just eight catches for 182 yards, but with three of those eight receptions going for touchdowns.
  • Last week’s win by the Riders marked the first time they had knocked off the Blue Bombers in a game that went to overtime. Winnipeg had won the first three OT games in the all-time series, with victories in 1991, 2002, 2017.


“This week they were not very pleased with themselves. Nobody likes losing. Everybody’s pissed off after a loss, every team. The way you lose can change the magnitude of the emotion. As long as you find out the truth as to why it happened, I think they can move on very quickly and deal with it. They feel they can play better than they did.” – Mike O’Shea.