How One Injury Changed The CFL MOP Race

How One Injury Changed The CFL MOP Race
© USA Today

This Canadian Football League season had intriguing storylines. There was the question of whether Bo Levi-Mitchell could come back and be the quarterback he once was. Then there could the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win a third straight Grey Cup? Canadian football could never see Nathan Rourke coming. 

Hell, no one did, or very few people. British Columbia in the preseason was entertaining enough, but this quarterback could throw and run pretty damn well. 

The former Ohio Bobcat (NCAA) had a pretty solid career where he showed off his mobility averaging more than 5.5 yards per carry every season. 

He was born in Victoria, British Columbia, but grew up in Ontario. Some forget he was the 15th pick of the 2020 CFL Draft. He started a few games last year. The finale against Edmonton, when he ran for three touchdowns and passed for one, was a preview of what he could be. 

In training camp, there was something special about the 24-year-old. He was a quarterback and a team leader.

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Early Futures On Nathan Rourke Were Interesting

Few knew what to make of Rourke and his chances. There were players like Zach Collaros of Winnipeg, Cody Fajardo of Saskatchewan, and even Levi-Mitchell of Calgary well ahead of him. 

Right before the season, Rourke was on the radar at around 15.00 to 20.00 to win Most Outstanding Player, depending on the Canadian betting site. Ontario sports bettors were not sure what to make of him, either. 

That agility and arm got me hooked. All it took was one half against Edmonton. It was different. Yes, the CFL is played far differently than the NFL, but this was fun.

That Game 1 performance saw Rourke strike for five combined touchdowns and 360 yards from scrimmage. It was just the beginning of a season that saw the British Columbia standout pile up almost 3,600 yards in a little less than nine games. 

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Then Those Numbers Just Kept On Dropping

British Columbia racked up an 8-1 record in that time, with their only loss coming to Winnipeg. The Blue Bombers are two-time defending Grey Cup Champions. Rourke bounced back and kept leading the Lions to more wins.

After the Winnipeg loss, Rourke briefly dropped off “favourite status” and was right back at the top a week later. 

He piled up 32 combined touchdowns as British Columbia averaged more than 35 points a night. They were a top attraction in the league because of the young quarterback. 

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Unfortunately, All Good Things Come To An End For Now

Rourke suffered a Lisfranc sprain in his foot against the Saskatchewan Rough Riders. This required surgery. It was a freak injury that ended the quarterback’s season.

For a few weeks, the future was listed, but now on sites like Sports Interaction, the only CFL Futures bet left is for the 2022 Grey Cup. By the way, Winnipeg is now a 2.00 (EVEN) favourite with a 12-1 record.

Yes, the MOP future will return soon enough, and Rourke will return next year. The best news is that spark will hopefully come back, too. Rourke created quite a buzz, and the Lions, as well as bettors, are in for quite a ride.