British Columbia Provincial Football Association
T-Birds gun for home playoff berth in season finale in Manitoba
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Having clinched a spot in the Hardy Cup playoffs for the fourth straight season, the No. 10 UBC Thunderbirds (4-3) visit the Manitoba Bisons (3-4) to close out the regular season on Saturday, October 27th with a home postseason berth on the line.

After back-to-back wins that saw the 'Birds outscore their opponents by a combined 50-21 margin, UBC is riding some renewed confidence. The T-Birds hold their fate in their own hands as a win over the Bisons will clinch second place in the Canada West and a guaranteed Hardy Cup semifinal home date for the second straight year.

The Bisons, meanwhile, are also playoff bound and will finish in either third or fourth place depending on this week's results. While a win for Manitoba won't be enough for a home berth, the Bisons can still play spoiler for UBC's ability to host while also avenging their week one 30-20 loss to the T-Birds at Thunderbird Stadium.

Kickoff for the 2018 regular season finale is 12:00 p.m. PT Saturday at Winnipeg's Investors Group Field. The game will be streamed live on Canada West TV.   

Last Action

UBC punched their ticket to the playoffs with a decisive 30-11 win over the visiting Alberta Golden Bears at Thunderbird Stadium Saturday afternoon. It marked UBC's first consecutive wins on the season while keeping their opponent under 12 points for a second straight week.

The Bisons have dropped two games in a row heading into the final week of the regular season, managing just a field goal and a rouge in a 27-4 loss to the Huskies last weekend. Manitoba will be hungry to enter the post-season on a high note.

By the Numbers

4 – The T-Birds can pride themselves on ball security this season. Quarterback Michael O'Connor is working with a TD to interception ratio better than 2:1, picked off just four times while the T-Birds' offence as a whole has lost just four balls to fumbles. Compare that to UBC's defence which has seven interceptions and eight fumble recoveries.

Elias Rodriguez vs Alberta, Oct. 20, 2018

10.5 – The average points against for the 'Birds over the last two weeks. On the season, UBC has allowed an average of 25 points per game, third best in the conference.

Players to Watch

Michael O'Connor (#15, QB) – The veteran pivot had his best game of the season last week against Alberta with 427 passing yards and two touchdowns along with an 85.7% completion rate. His 16 straight completions to start the game set a new school record.


U SPORTS ?? Players of the Week / Joueurs de ?? de la semaine U SPORTS

Off.: Trivel Pinto (@ubctbirds)
Def.: Sterling Taylor (@UCDinos)
Spe.: Niko DiFonte (@UCDinos)

?? EN:  // ?? FR: 

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Trivel Pinto (#1, REC) – Winning a second straight Canada West player of the week award, Pinto's 198 yards receiving along with a touchdown and 294 all-purpose yards earned him U SPORTS offensive player of the week as well. The fourth-year receiver leads the conference in yards per game (121.7) and receptions per game (9.2).  

Coach's Take

Aside from trying to really continue a roll into the postseason, the fight for a home playoff berth is something the 'Birds feel is of tremendous importance.

"It certainly doesn't guarantee anything in the long run but the fact you can remain at home, practice in your facility, the players are comfortable in their own beds and you can eliminate the travel, it's all a big deal, not to mention playing in front of your home crowd," said UBC head coach Blake Nill.

The 'Birds have had their fair share of injuries throughout the season, especially at running back, but rookies like Sharique Khan, who put up 150 combined yards on offence and his first career touchdown, have been stepping up and gaining valuable experience.

"We're starting to overcome some of our injuries and hopefully we can continue to improve and see better performance out of those guys that are on the field," added Nill who also wants to see improved efficiency in the red zone. "When the game is tight there's a lot of pressure, especially on the young kids who haven't had that experience yet. They may succumb to a bit of the stress and consequently you don't play as well. Having the offence score when we have chances to score will make a difference for the entire team."

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