Golden Bears Football
Coming off their first win of 2017, and now sitting just one win back of the fourth and final playoff spot, the University of Alberta Golden Bears football team will host the Regina Rams in a must-win game, Saturday afternoon at Foote Field.
Kickoff between Alberta and Regina is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. MST, and will be available both on Canada West TV, as well as on TELUS Optik TV Channel 998.
Alberta, now 1-4 following the 36-25 road win over Manitoba last weekend, sits just a game behind the 2-3 Saskatchewan Huskies for the final Canada West post-season spot. With a game still against both Regina (3-2) this weekend, and Saskatchewan 2-3 at home the following weekend, the Golden Bears control their fate in terms of qualifying for the playoffs.
Last weekend, the Golden Bears were able to take advantage of 341 all-purpose yards by fifth-year back Ed Ilnicki, as well as 162 yards and three touchdowns from rookie receiver Nathan Rowe.
Both Rowe and Ilnicki continue to pace the conference in their respective offensive category, with Ilnicki’s 2017 stats also pacing the entire country. Rowe leads Canada West with 564 receiving yards through five games, sitting third overall with five touchdown receptions. Ilnicki, meanwhile, has already crushed his career-high of 754 rushing yards, entering Saturday with a U SPORTS-high 829 yards. Ilnicki has also earned back-to-back Canada West Offensive Player of the Week honours, rushing for 196 and 278 yards over the past two games.
The only team this season that has been able to somewhat mitigate Ilnicki’s success, however, was the Regina Rams in Week 3. The Rams held the fifth-year veteran to just 60 yards on 11 carries, with the 60 yards representing a season-low for Ilnicki. And while the Rams did earn a 28-18 win over the Bears, Alberta has had its fair share of success against Regina in recent seasons. The Golden Bears knocked off the Rams 19-18 the last time they met at Foote Field in 2016, while also earning a 29-22 road win against the Rams in 2015.
The key to earning the must-needed win against Regina this weekend, as it has been for every team, is stopping reigning Hec Crighton Trophy winner Noah Picton. Picton tossed for 336 yards and a pair of TD’s against Alberta three weeks ago, while completing 71% of his pass attempts. By comparison, Picton threw for just 314 yards, no touchdowns, adding a lost fumble at Foote Field last season.
And while the Rams sit second overall in Canada West with a 3-2 record, and a No. 8 ranking in U SPORTS, their offensive numbers don’t differ drastically from that of the Bears. Regina owns the second best offence in Canada West (469 yards per game), compared to the third ranked Golden Bears (456 YPG).
What does separate the teams, however, is their scoring defence. The Bears have given up an average of 38 points per game this season, the second-highest mark, while Regina has given up just 28 points per game, the third fewest.
Stat of the Match:
The Rams hold a 19-8 record all-time against the Golden Bears in Canada West play, but have won just two of the previous five meetings dating back to 2014.