No. 8 Bisons football visits Alberta looking to get back into win column

WINNIPEG – While the No. 8 ranked Manitoba Bisons (1-1) are coming off their first loss of the season, spirits are high heading into a Week 3 matchup with the Alberta Golden Bears (1-1) at Foote Field on September 13, 2019.

Kickoff will be 8 p.m. CDT, with fans able to watch the game on CanadaWest.TV (fee required) or listen on CJSR 88.5 Edmonton.

The Bisons may have lost 24-10 at No. 4 Calgary last Friday but feel confident after holding the defending Hardy Cup finalists — and a team that hasn’t lost a regular season game since 2017 — to a scoreless second half. That’s just the third time since the 2013 Vanier Cup that Calgary has been shut out for an entire half.

Special teams have also an area of strength for Manitoba through two weeks of Canada West action. Running back and return specialist Michael Ritchott racked up 190 return yards against Calgary (135 on kick returns, 55 on punts) and currently sits third in U SPORTS in kick return yards per game (33.9) and first in punt return yards per game (22.0). For his performance against the Dinos, Ritchott was named the conference’s Special Teams Player of the Week.

Though they’ve dominated the matchup with Alberta in recent years — to the tune of an 8-2 record over the last ten and a season sweep in 2018 (W 37-21, W 37-27) — head coach Brian Dobie is preparing for a new-look Golden Bears team in 2019.

“I think Alberta is the most improved team in the conference. Their defence has got athletes. Their defensive secondary to me looks like it’s loaded up. They’re doing a lot of crazy stuff [with offensive coordinator Greg Knox],” said Dobie in his weekly debrief.

“They’re all over the place, they’re doing things that the conference really hasn’t seen before. They’re taking defensive linemen and playing them back at five yards, and then running at you and stunting around that. They’re extremely dynamic and active and there really isn’t a distinctive pattern to it. So, to play around that, an offence has to be really disciplined and secure in its rules. It will be really important that our offence adhere to that.”

The aerial attack has been key for the Golden Bears this season, as they rank seventh in U SPORTS in passing yards per completion (13.4). Quarterback Brad Launhardt has been efficient as well, passing for 577 yards with a 58.1 per cent completion rate through two weeks. Interceptions have been an issue, however, as Launhardt has four.

After this week, the Bisons prepare for their Homecoming Game on Saturday, September 21, as they take on the UBC Thunderbirds at 2 p.m. at IG Field