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Ferguson: 10 quarterback matchups to watch in 2021

When the CFL schedule comes out, each person sees something different.

Some look for divisional matchups, others look for strength of schedule and the majority of you look at where and when your team has their marquee matchups.

Me? I like to look at all of this and more, including number of days between games, separation of home and away dates and even travel incurred at different times in the year. But what really gets me excited is looking at projected quarterback matchups and where they might fall in the winding journey that is a CFL season.

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With the caveat that these projections only include starting quarterbacks because I don’t wish injury on anyone and injuries are unpredictable, let’s take a look at the top 10 QB matchups of the 2021 CFL schedule.

Week 1 – Hamilton @ Winnipeg

Let’s be real, a rock could be playing a stick in this one and we’d all be extremely enthused about it, but getting a Grey Cup re-match to kick off the season is an absolutely perfect way to welcome back the CFL. Now factor in the QB storylines and it gets that much better.

Former Ticats QB Zach Collaros was sent to Saskatchewan in 2017 in part because the team saw something in Jeremiah Masoli that they just couldn’t turn down. Collaros is now the man in Winnipeg and Masoli returns off an ACL injury – which Collaros also suffered in Hamilton – to likely start over Dane Evans and take on the Bombers vaunted defence which Masoli watched deconstruct Hamilton in the 2019 Grey Cup. Spicy.

Week 1 – Toronto @ Calgary

It didn’t matter where this one fell on the calendar, it was going to be one of the most interesting games of the year. QB Nick Arbuckle and head coach Ryan Dinwiddie will lead the Double Blue back into McMahon to take on Bo Levi Mitchell and Dave Dickenson in a game where everyone knows each other a little too well. This matchup will definitely force some creativity into play.

Week 2 – Montreal @ Edmonton

Trevor Harris completed 22 consecutive passes in the 2019 Eastern Semi-Final against Montreal (Dominick Gravel/CFL.ca)

This is a rematch of the 2019 Eastern Semi-Final where Trevor Harris clinically picked apart Montreal’s defence and Vernon Adams Jr. threw two of the worst interceptions of his standout 2019 campaign. Can Vernon avoid regression in 2021 and take the next step to make Montreal a real contender in the East? An early season test against the last team he faced before the pandemic halted his development will be a great indicator, while Harris has some new toys to play with offensively.

Week 2 – BC @ Calgary

Mike Reilly. Bo Levi Mitchell.

Any time of year, any location, with or without stakes attached, it doesn’t matter. Watching these two compete on the same football field is always a treat and we should appreciate every one of these matchups we have left because you never know when they’ll be gone.

Week 5 – Toronto @ Hamilton

Mark’s Labour Day Weekend sells itself. The first Ticats home game will sell itself. But why not add some quarterback intrigue to the pot and see what happens, right? Arbuckle vs. Masoli could happen four or five times (playoffs pending) in 2021. Based on previous data and film the matchups could be explosive each time with Arbuckle leading a revamped Argos offence against the fireworks show that is Hamilton’s receiver group.

Week 7 – Toronto @ Saskatchewan

Cody Fajardo will welcome Nick Arbuckle and the Toronto Argonauts in Week 7 of the CFL schedule (The Canadian Press)

Okay, this one is about more than just quarterbacks. Yes, it’s exciting to see what could be the next generation of stars in Nick Arbuckle and Cody Fajardo taking the reigns and making a name for themselves, but I also can’t wait to watch Charleston Hughes try to track down Fajardo in his return to Riderville. I also can’t wait to see Arbuckle try to recreate some of the magic he had in Regina last year.

Week 9 – Saskatchewan @ Calgary

If Cody Fajardo wants to become a household name like Mike Reilly or Bo Levi Mitchell to casual CFL fans outside of Saskatchewan, he needs to start beating the likes of Mike Reilly and Bo Levi Mitchell in head-to-head matchups consistently. Going into McMahon is one of the great challenges in the CFL, regardless of how you think Calgary’s roster has evolved in the last few years. This game gives Fajardo another opportunity to show he’s got the right stuff to make it long-term in Saskatchewan.

Week 14 – Winnipeg @ Calgary

In 2019, it was a late season push for Zach Collaros to pick up the offence and lead the Bombers to playoff glory. Of course you know by now it all happened according to Manitoba’s Disney script, but it began against Calgary. Could 2021 bring back similar memories with a late-season triumph for Collaros in Calgary before attacking the playoffs again?

Week 14 – Edmonton @ Saskatchewan 

We have to wait all the way until Week 14 to see the Elks and Riders face off. That means former Edmonton head coach turned Riders offensive coordinator Jason Maas will have plenty of film to work with in devising some home run shots with Fajardo to Shaq Evans or Kyran Moore in what could be a message-sending, late-season showdown vs. Harris and new Elks bench boss Jaime Elizondo.

Week 16 – Edmonton @ BC

This is the last week of the regular season and we have Trevor Harris against Mike Reilly with likely playoff implications on the line? I’m in, and you will be too.

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