It’s that time of year again. The biggest day in football — if you’re a CFL fan, that is.
The 107th Grey Cup takes place this Sunday and will surely attract Canadian eyeballs. Last year’s match-up attracted over three million viewers across the country, making it the most watched sports broadcast in Canada.
Here’s what you need to know about this year’s “Super Bowl of Canada.”
What time is the 2019 Grey Cup?
The 2019 Grey Cup takes place at 6 p.m. EST / 4 p.m. MST / 3 p.m PST on Sunday, Nov. 24. That’s 7:30 p.m. NT / 7 p.m. AST.
Who is playing in the 2019 Grey Cup?
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats (16-3) will face off against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (13-7).
Where is the 2019 Grey Cup?
The Grey Cup will be hosted in Calgary outdoors at McMahon Stadium for the fifth time in history. It could’ve been a hometeam Grey Cup — the Calgary Stampeders were 2018 champions. But this year, they lost early in the playoffs to Winnipeg.
The city of Calgary has been holding a week-long festival, with a rodeo, fair and more.
There’s also a horse! On Thursday, Tuffy the Horse trotted into the Hilton Garden Inn hotel in downtown Calgary as part of a 72-year-old tradition. Every year since 1948, Calgary fans have brought a horse into a hotel in the host city. This year, they didn’t have to go far.
Where can I watch the 2019 Grey Cup?
In Canada, you can watch on TSN for an English broadcast and RDS for the French-language (check your local listing for the exact channel) show.
ESPN and its affiliated networks broadcasts the Grey Cup in the United States and around the world.
If you’re looking for an audio experience, you can also tune in to Sirius XM Radio and iHeartRadio.
Who is playing the halftime show?
Country star Keith Urban will take on halftime duties for the 2019 Grey Cup.
The four-time Grammy Award and multiple-Country Music Association Award winner describes himself as a “Canadian football novice” — this year’s Grey Cup is the first CFL game the New Zealand-born singer will attend.
Not much of a country music fan? He’s also actress Nicole Kidman’s husband. So, you know, an excuse to talk about “Big Little Lies” at your Grey Cup watch party.
What makes the CFL different than the NFL?
Well, it’s Canadian.
Besides that, the league’s a lot smaller, with only nine teams compared to the 32 in the NFL. But the season is longer, with 18 games rather than 16 in the NFL.
The rules are a bit different, too. The CFL field is longer, spanning 110 yards compared to the standard 100 in the NFL. The end zone is bigger, and the goalposts — where field-goals are kicked through — are at the front of the end zone rather than the back.
There’s also only three downs compared to four in the NFL, and in the CFL there are 12 players for each team on the field compared to the NFL’s 11.
Watch: The differences between the NFL and the CFL. Story continues below.
Players also have a chance to score one point in the CFL through something called a “rouge,” which is when the kickoff goes through the end zone.
There are lots of smaller differences too. Most of them derive from football’s roots in rugby; Canadian football is a lot more similar, while American football has undergone rule changes over the past century and a half to create what we know as the modern game.
The CFL even tried to expand into the U.S. in the ’90s, with teams in cities including Sacramento, Calif. and Baltimore. All of them quickly shuttered or moved back to Canada. The Baltimore Stallions became what we now know as the Montreal Alouettes.
Another important distinction is pay. While NFL players can make big bucks — Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins made US$27.5 million this year — CFL players do not.
Watch: How have NFL teams with the highest-paid player fared? Story continues below.
Many CFL players go on to play in the NFL.
Give me some facts to sound smart at my watch party
Here are three fun facts:
- Both teams have the longest droughts in CFL history without winning a Grey Cup. The last time Winnipeg won was 1990, while Hamilton hasn’t seen a Cup since 1999.
- Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros has had a wild season. He started off playing for Saskatchewan, then was traded to the Toronto Argonauts on July 31 before Winnipeg bargained for him in October. He’s since led the team on a tear, including two road game playoff victories to get to this weekend’s Grey Cup. If his team — admittedly the underdogs — pulls it out against his former organization (he played for Hamilton from 2014 to 2017), it would be a fitting end to a whirlwind year.
- Winnipeg and Hamilton met twice during the regular season, with Hamilton winning both games. The two teams ranked first and second in three key areas: points for, offensive points and touchdowns. If you want a bunch of other stats to spout off, the CFL website has you covered.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros started off playing for Hamilton this year. In fact, Collaros began the 2019 season with Saskatchewan and was traded to Toronto on July 31. He was then traded from Toronto to Winnipeg in October. He played for Hamilton from 2014 to 2017.