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CFL Preview - Saskatchewan (2-0) at Toronto (1-1)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Thursday, July 11, 7:30 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: The lone remaining undefeated team after two weeks of CFL action tries to make it three in a row on Thursday night, as the Saskatchewan Roughriders head out on the road to face the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre.

This marks the first time since 2006 that only one team in the league can claim to be 2-0 after as many weeks, which may be a sign of parity among the other squads at this point.

Saskatchewan experienced similar success to open 2012, kicking off the campaign with a three-game win streak before the wheels fell off. The Riders went from a perfect 3-0 to dropping the next five outings and winning a total of just five games the rest of the way, so at this point the team should be taking nothing for granted.

Easily the top-scoring club in the league here in the early going, Saskatchewan is averaging 37.5 ppg thanks to a season-opening 39-18 romp over Edmonton on the road, and a 36-21 triumph versus Calgary in the home opener at Mosaic Stadium last Friday.

Against the Stampeders, Saskatchewan scored in every quarter, closing with 16 in the fourth and 22 unanswered overall in the second half in order to bounce back from a 21-14 deficit at the break.

Quarterback Darian Durant converted all but eight of his 34 pass attempts for 258 yards and two touchdowns, shaking off a pair of sacks along the way. Coming out of the backfield, Kory Sheets accounted for another 133 yards and a major on 26 rushing attempts for a squad that has run the ball a league-high 53 times through two games for an average of 147.5 ypg.

Further down the field, Weston Dressler and Chris Getzlaf made it look easy for Durant as the pair responded with a combined 18 receptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns. The duo is currently second and third in the league with 12 and 11 total catches, respectively.

As strong as Dressler and Getzlaf have been already for the Riders, the team still holds an ace in the hole with Geroy Simon, having acquired the star receiver from British Columbia. Simon has yet to take the field this season for Saskatchewan, but once he does the spotlight will follow him everywhere he goes.

Granted, Simon is a bit long in the tooth these days, but the fact remains that he needs just 11 catches to become the third player in league history to reach 1,000 for his career. Already the league's all-time leader in receiving yards with 15,787, Simon currently owns a streak of 173 straight games with at least one reception.

While the Riders seem to be stacked with talent at the skill positions, Toronto also has some marquee players to keep an eye on, even if the team did drop a 24-16 decision at British Columbia last week.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last several years, everyone knows how devastating Chad Owens has been for the team and he did so again versus the Lions with a game-high 11 receptions for 111 yards, adding another 70 yards on kickoff returns and 18 on punt returns as well.

Owens is currently second in the league in combined yards after two games with 434, trailing Hamilton's Lindsey Lamar by a mere three yards, but you can expect the reigning Outstanding Player of the Year in the CFL to turn up the pressure in short order.

The other key components for the Toronto offense are Ricky Ray at quarterback and running back Chad Kackert. Against the Lions, Ray hit on 28-of-39 passes for 215 yards, but failed to get the ball into the end zone through the air. Instead, he carried the ball four times and generated 14 yards and one major that way.

Kackert had a lackluster effort on the ground (eight carries for 20 yards), but he did challenge the BC defense by logging six catches, albeit for just 26 yards.

Ray has completed 71.2 percent of his pass attempts thus far in 2013, leading to four touchdowns and no interceptions, yet his efficiency rating of 113.0 is still being dwarfed by Durant who has shown similar accuracy (.714), one more TD pass and also no INTs, leading to a massive 123.3 rating.

Durant has been picked off just once in his last 144 attempts, a stat that is quite impressive, until you consider the fact that Ray has tossed just one INT in his last 188 passes.

Taking into account only regular-season matchups dating back to 1961, the Roughriders own a 45-36-1 advantage in the series with Toronto, taking two of the last three encounters overall. However, the Argos were the ones who came out on top in the most recent meeting last Oct. 27 by a score of 31-26 in Regina.

The clubs are slated to meet once more during the 2013 regular season, with Saskatchewan playing host on Sept. 14.

Both defenses need to be at the top of their respective games or Ray and Durant could carve them up with surgical precision. Because the Argos are at home and will have the full weight of the crowd behind them, give the hosts a slight edge in this one.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toronto 28, Saskatchewan 25

07/10 10:35:24 ET

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