As the concluding chapter of the Canadian Football League season, the Grey Cup captures the nation’s attention for a whole week of festivities culminating in the decisive grand finale to determine the league’s champion. 

In 2023, the 110th Grey Cup will take place in Hamilton, Ontario, pitting the returning Winnipeg Blue Bombers against the Montreal Alouettes for the first time in the final’s history. 

Before we delve into the November 19 clash at Tim Hortons Field, here’s a look at the history of the Grey Cup and the elements that have made it such a staple of Canadian professional sports.

What is the Grey Cup?

The Grey Cup is the championship game of the CFL. It takes place every year, pitting the winners of the playoffs of the East Division and West Division against one another. 

To earn a place in the Grey Cup, teams in the current format of the CFL need to finish in the top three places of their division. However, there is also a chance for a fourth-place team to break into the postseason.

Due to the crossover rule, if the fourth-placed team in one division has a better record than a third-placed team in the other division, that fourth-placed team will go to the playoffs in place of that third-placed team.

The playoff bracket sees the teams that topped the two divisions have a bye for the first round. The rounds are decided in a single game, with the Division Semi-Finals leading to the Division Finals to determine the Grey Cup finalists. 

This third and final stage of the CFL playoffs is also a one-game affair, taking place one week after the Division Finals and two weeks after the playoffs begin with the Division Semi-Finals. 

The winners of the Grey Cup are hailed as the CFL champions, get inscribed on the ever-growing Grey Cup base, and will get to attempt to defend the crown the following season. 

Where is the Grey Cup Held?

The Grey Cup is held at a predetermined stadium every year, so not necessarily at the home of one of the two teams competing for the trophy. 

In 2023, the Grey Cup will be held at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, which marks The Donut Box’s second run as hosts of the CFL’s final, having also presented the 108th Grey Cup. 

Already, the CFL has named BC Place in Vancouver as the host of the Grey Cup in 2024 and then IG Field in Winnipeg for the 112th Grey Cup.

With 30 times recorded as hosts, Varsity Stadium in Toronto retains the record of the most Grey Cup games held in one stadium, but its last time hosting came in 1957 – the 45th Grey Cup. 

Across its stadiums since the inception of the Grey Cup, Toronto has, by far, performed the most hosting duties, clocking in its 48th turn in 2016 for the 104th Grey Cup, which was played at BMO Field. 

When is the Grey Cup Each Year?

The Grey Cup tends to fall on the third Sunday of November in contemporary CFL scheduling. 

Naturally, 2021’s 108th Grey Cup presents an anomaly, but most Grey Cups fall in the bracket of the third or sometimes the fourth Sunday of November, depending on how the dates fall.

For the 2023 Grey Cup, the game will take place on the third Sunday of November, on the 19th in Hamilton. 

What Happens if the Grey Cup Ends in a Tie?

In the event of a tie in the Grey Cup, both teams will get a chance to score, with the team going first being decided by the call of a coin toss. 

From the opponent’s 35-yard line, the team in possession will get to complete their series of downs until they either score or give up possession to their opponents. Then, the other team gets to do the same. 

Touchdowns have to be followed by a 3-yard two-point attempt. Should the score remain level after this phase, it’ll be repeated, with both teams getting another opportunity to score until there’s a winner.

In 2005, only the second-ever Grey Cup game was decided in overtime. It was also the first tie in Grey Cup history that was decided by this equal-chance shootout procedure. 

The other two Grey Cups that were decided in overtime came in 1961 and, most recently, in 2016, which saw the Ottawa REDBLACKS beat the favourites, the Calgary Stampeders, in the 104th Grey Cup. 

What Teams are in the Grey Cup this Year?

The 2023 Grey Cup will see the Montreal Alouettes faceoff against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the first time in all of the Grey Cup’s 110 editions.

Entering with a 14-4 regular season record and returning for their fourth successive Grey Cup appearance, the Blue Bombers are heavily favoured to beat the East Division’s second-placed Alouettes, who finished with an 11-7 regular season record. 

What are the Odds for the 110th Grey Cup?

The odds for the 110th Grey Cup are heavily leaning toward the Winnipeg Blue Bombers over the Montreal Alouettes. 

In the CFL odds, the Blue Bombers are the -454 moneyline favourites to hoist the Grey Cup and get odds of -111 on the spread at -8.5.

Looking to defy the odds, the Alouettes get +300 on the moneyline and -111 to keep the game to within eight points at +8.5 on the spread. 

It’s expected to be a fairly tight game. With both teams rocking up with highly-rated defences, under 47.5 points gets the shorter odds of -118. 

Which Team Will Win the 110th Grey Cup?

On paper, everything’s pointing to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers hoisting their third Grey Cup in four years, having missed out by just one point last year to the Toronto Argonauts at Mosaic Stadium. 

Leading the way will be Mr. Grey Cup himself, Zach Collaros, who has guided Winnipeg to each of their four consecutive Grey Cup appearances. The quarterback boasts a 7-1 record in the postseason. 

With Brady Oliveira in the backfield, Montreal’s defence will be kept honest, offering ample opportunities for both offensive stars, while the likes of Demerio Houston and Willie Jefferson will pose real problems for the Alouettes attack.

On the flip side, Montreal’s defence has been a menace all season, even forcing nine turnovers when they faced the champions, Toronto, in the playoffs. So, they’ve proven that they can stifle the regular season’s best team.

There’s also a grand redemption story in the works – the kind that gets talked about as “destiny” after a Grey Cup win. Cody Fajardo has gone from Roughriders castaway to enjoying a career year in his first season with the Alouettes. 

Still, during the regular season, Winnipeg had Montreal’s number. In Week 4, a trip to the Percival Molson Memorial Stadium saw the Blue Bombers win 17-3, and they doubled down in Week 12 with a 47-17 obliteration of the Alouettes at home. 

So, it makes sense that, in betting circles, the Blue Bombers are being backed to win the 110th Grey Cup and are at -120 to score over 27.5 points. 

Which Team has Won the Most Grey Cups? 

The Toronto Argonauts have won the most Grey Cups in the history of the competition, clocking in 18 wins from 24 appearances. Their most recent came in 2022.

However, since the post-merger era began in 1958, the 11 appearances and eight wins of the Argos only ranks them third. Instead, it’s the Edmonton Elks with the most wins (11), followed by the nine of Winnipeg. 

What are the Two MVP Trophies for in the Grey Cup?

At the end of the Grey Cup game, two awards will be given out: the Dick Suderman Trophy and the Most Valuable Player.

The MVP title goes to the best player of the winning team in the Grey Cup game. The Dick Suderman Trophy goes to the best Canadian player in the game, regardless of the team that they’re on. 

Of the last five Grey Cups that have taken place (2017 to 2022), both the MVP and Dick Suderman Trophy have only gone to the same player twice. These two were Hénoc Muamba (2022) and Andrew Harris (2019). 

Who Will Play the Halftime Show of the 2023 Grey Cup?

Rock band Green Day will be on the field to perform at halftime of the 110th Grey Cup, and Jamie Fine will be performing the kickoff show.

*Credit for all images in this article belongs to Alamy*

Ben is very much a sports nerd, being obsessed with statistical deep dives and the numbers behind the results and performances.

Top of the agenda are hockey, soccer, and boxing, but there's always time for the NFL, cricket, Formula One, and a bit of mixed martial arts.