We are in new, uncharted territory here. It's strange. It feels great, but strange.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders entered the history books this weekend with a 48-25 blowout of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Labour Day Classic XLVII at Mosaic Stadium. It was the second-highest attendance in Roughrider history at 44,910 and the vast, vast majority of fans were clad in green. More on that in a moment.
But more importantly, for the first time in their 103 years, the Saskatchewan Roughriders' record stands at 8-1. It's astounding when you think about it, but then again maybe not so much when you consider this franchise's bumpy track record and reputation as lovable losers.
One of the few blemishes on this season is the fact the Riders have become notorious slow-starters and they allowed the Bombers to score first in Sunday's game, and Winnipeg even led 18-14 at the halftime break.
But was anyone worried? Nah. At halftime in the press box everyone just wondered when the Green & White was going to turn it on and mash the Bombers into the ground. As it turned out, they didn't wait long. The Riders scored a touchdown on their first drive of the second half, took the lead, and never looked back. As my radio partner Carm Carteri said late in the game, "The Riders just broke the Bombers' spirit".
They did. In fact they wore them right out. Winnipeg may be the doormat of the East Division but they came into Regina on this weekend to play. Unfortunately for them, they ran into the strongest team Saskatchewan has ever fielded. The record says so.
And the Bombers didn't have the backing of their own fans in this Labour Day Classic, or at least to the degree they used to. Labour Day weekend is always one of the highlights on the football calendar around here because it's a mini-Grey Cup atmosphere but that wasn't the case in 2013. The thousands of Bomber fans who make the trip to Regina annually elected to stay home this time around, reducing the number of blue and gold jerseys in the crowd on Sunday to about a thousand.
That makes the attendance of 44,910 all the more astonishing because the stadium was populated by almost entirely Rider fans. Rider Pride is in overdrive and I heard over the weekend the franchise sold $1.3-million in merchandise in the month of August alone.
Clearly the Rider Nation is buying what the Riders are selling. Literally and figuratively. This team is on a collision course with the Grey Cup and the ride has been a thrill-a-minute.
"I've never seen so much talent," said Rider defensive end John Chick, who had the team's two sacks in the game. "And maturity. We have some things to work on both on and off the field, but this is a mature bunch.
"Everybody gets along well and it's a tight bunch. It's been a lot of fun."
The question now is; how high can they go?