Canadian Press Reporter Dan Ralph Breaks Down His 30th Grey Cup Game

Written By Dave Briggs on November 18, 2022
Veteran Canadian Press CFL reporter Dan Ralph says Toronto has a shot in Sunday's Grey Cup, despite Winnipeg being favoured to win its third straight title.

Canada sports betting enthusiasts looking to place a bet on the 109th Grey Cup might want to consider some insight from Canadian Press reporter Dan Ralph.

After all, Sunday’s Canadian Football League championship game will be the 30th Grey Cup game Ralph has covered. The tilt between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Toronto Argonauts will kickoff at 6 p.m. ET at Regina’s Mosaic Stadium.

Canadian Press reporter Dan Ralph at his 30th Grey Cup

Ralph (above, with fellow CP reporter Donna Spencer and the Grey Cup this week in Regina), said the magic of the Grey Cup is that it is a one-game, winner-take-all championship.

“It doesn’t matter who the two teams are. It doesn’t matter if one team was dominant [during the season] and the other team just scraped into the playoffs,” Ralph said.

“Funny things happen. Amazing things happen. Disappointing things happen. Heartbreaking things happen. But there’s always something that occurs.”

Winnipeg is a deserving favourite, but don’t underestimate the underdog Argos

Ralph said that, on paper, it looks like there is a huge gap between the Blue Bombers and the Argonauts.

“You have a dominant team in Winnipeg, facing a team in Toronto that finished in the east with four fewer wins,” he said. “Toronto is the decided underdog and you’ve got a Winnipeg team going for a third straight Grey Cup at 15-3, the league’s best record.”

On Thursday night, Winnipeg had four of its team members honoured by the CFL. Quarterback Zach Collaros was named the outstanding player for a second straight year. Blue Bombers’ head coach Michael O’Shea was named Coach of the Year for the second straight year, as well. Winnipeg’s Stanley Bryant and Dalton Schoen were voted the top lineman and top rookie, respectively.

But that doesn’t mean Ralph thinks Toronto has no chance on Sunday.

After all, just five years ago, the Argos were a decided underdog against the Calgary Stampeders in the Grey Cup. Toronto won 27-24 with quarterback Ricky Ray winning his record-setting fourth Grey Cup as a starter.

“This [year’s] game has just as much potential for an upset. Year in and year out [the Grey Cup] always sets itself up that way,” Ralph said.

Collaros’ ankle injury could be a factor

Ralph said it will be interesting to see just how big a favourite Winnipeg will be. Currently, most Ontario sportsbooks have Winnipeg favoured by between 5 and 6.5 points and the over/under between 46.5 and 48.

As of Friday morning, the moneyline was as follows:

  • DraftKings: Winnipeg: 1.42 digital, -240 (American); Toronto: 3, +200
  • Caesars: Winnipeg: 1.38, -264; Toronto: 2.84, +184
  • BetMGM: Winnipeg: 1.42, -238; Toronto: 2.95, +195
  • BetRivers: Winnipeg: 1.41, -245; Toronto: 2.95, +195
  • bet365: Winnipeg: 1.42, -240; Toronto: 3, +200
  • Unibet: Winnipeg: 1.41, -245; Toronto: 2.95, +195
  • Bwin: Winnipeg: 1.42, -240; Toronto: 2.95, +195
  • BetVictor: Winnipeg: 1.4, -250; Toronto: 2.8, +180
  • Sports Interaction: Winnipeg: 1.42, -237; Toronto: 2.07, +107
  • PointsBet: Winnipeg: 1.43, -230; Toronto: 2.95, +195
  • FanDuel: Winnipeg: 1.42, -240; Toronto: 3, +200
  • Pinnacle: Winnipeg: 1.42, -238; Toronto: 3.030, +203

But, Collaros’ injury status could be a factor, Ralph said.

“Zach Collaros suffered an ankle injury in the West final. He didn’t practice Wednesday or [Thursday]. Although, he did assure reporters yesterday that he will be ready to play come Sunday. But, they will be watching him to see if he has mobility if he can do all the things he was able to do the week before, before he got injured,” Ralph said.

“So, if he doesn’t play, or if he re-injures the ankle, they have a young guy backing him up, Dru Brown, who has very limited CFL experience. So, all of a sudden, that could level the playing field, too.”

Two things the Argos have in their favour

Ralph said Toronto has two things in its favour:

  • A defense that led the CFL in turnovers forced.
  • Running back Andrew Harris.

“[Harris] is the top rushing Canadian in CFL history,” Ralph said. “He was with Winnipeg for its previous two Grey Cup victories, so if there’s anybody who understands the Winnipeg mystique, it’ll be him and he’ll have a definite chip on his shoulder when he hits the field on Sunday.

“Like I said, it’s a one-game final, anything goes and you have a guy with something to prove. He could he could be a factor in the game come Sunday.”

Regina weather not expected to be a factor

Ralph said the Regina weather forecast for Sunday is looking surprisingly favourable.

“It’s going to be -3 during the day. I mean, probably by kickoff it might be -5 or -6 and probably go down to -10 by the evening. That’s chilly, but you know, it was -18 here earlier with a windchill of -23. So, you put that into consideration.

“It’s going to be a lot warmer and maybe that’ll allow both teams to open it up a bit. But the running game is always important in November and in Winnipeg has a running game that, I believe, was ranked top three. Toronto’s was ranked last this year. But Andrew Harris missed most of the year with an injury. He’s back, and both him and A.J. Ouellette are a pretty good one-two combination.

“So, I could see Toronto wanting to try and establish the run, but that Winnipeg defense is pretty good against the run and pass. They led the league in fewest offensive points allowed.”

Canada’s biggest annual sports and TV event

The Grey Cup game is Canada’s largest annual sports and television event. The game regularly draws a Canadian viewing audience of about 4 million.

Some 25,000 fans are expected to be in attendance at Mosaic Stadium for Sunday’s game.

The game will be broadcast coast-to-coast on the TSN Network, TSN.ca, and the TSN App.

Ralph’s Grey Cup history

Ralph covered his first Grey Cup in 1981 when he was still in journalism school.

“Four classmates and I, sort of on a whim, decided we would drive to Montreal and take in the Grey Cup. I got accredited and wrote [about the game]. That was my first and ’81 there was the double interference call on [Ottawa tight-end] Tony Gabriel. Ottawa storming out to a 22-1 halftime lead and then Edmonton coming back to win the fourth of its five straight Grey Cups on Dave Cutler’s field goal.”

The reporter also vivid memories of the 1994 game that featured an American team versus a Canadian one for the first time (the BC Lions defeated the Baltimore Football Club 26-23 on a last second field-goal by Lui Passaglia). He also remember the next year’s Grey Cup when Baltimore became the first American team to hoist the Grey Cup.

“I also remember the 2016 overtime game when Henry Burris hurt his knee in pre-game and we weren’t sure if he was going to play and he played and they went to overtime and his game-winning touchdown in overtime gave Ottawa its first Grey Cup in 40 years,” Ralph said.

“And then last year’s game in overtime in Hamilton, with Winnipeg winning for the second time and winning it with an interception on the final play of the game at Tim Horton’s field.”

While covering the Grey Cup is a lot of work, Ralph said he appreciates them a little bit more with each passing year.

“I get a bigger appreciation of it the closer I am getting to that finish line,” he said.

Winnipeg and Toronto Grey Cup history

The Blue Bombers, the league’s two-time defending champions, have won the Grey Cup 12 times. Winnipeg holds the record for the most Grey Cup appearances (26). Apart from winning last year’s Grey Cup 33-25 over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Blue Bombers also won the 2019 title. Since the CFL did not play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that means the Blue Bombers are going for their third straight championship.

Prior to 2019, Winnipeg last won the Grey Cup in 1990.

Meanwhile, the Argonauts have won the Grey Cup a record 17 times. Toronto has appeared in the championship game 23 times. Their most recent title came in 2017.

The Argonauts were founded in 1873. That makes them the oldest existing professional sports team in North America still using its original name.

In their lone game between each other in 2022 Winnipeg defeated Toronto 23-22 on July 4.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Canada with emphasis on the casino, sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Canada and Michigan.

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