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CFL Preview - Saskatchewan (8-1) at Winnipeg (1-8)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Sunday, September 8, 4:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: There's no time like the present for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to finally pick up their first home win of the season as they entertain the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday afternoon in the first-ever Banjo Bowl at Investors Group Field..

Winnipeg, which has come up empty in all four home dates thus far, joining Edmonton as the only teams in the league that have yet to celebrate with the hometown faithful, has won only once on the road this season as well, defeating Montreal in the second week of the season. Since then the team has been spiraling out of control, losing for the seventh straight outing last week by a score of 48-25 to the Roughriders.

The Bombers actually scored the first points of the game on Sunday when Henoc Muamba tackled Kory Sheets in the end zone for a safety in the first quarter, but Saskatchewan was just too powerful to overcome the rest of the way.

Quarterback Justin Goltz tried to give the Bombers a fighting chance as he converted 18-of-29 pass attempts for 182 yards, but he was picked off twice. Goltz was also the leader on the ground for the visitors as he gained 73 yards and scored twice on runs of six and 46 yards in the second and fourth quarters, respectively.

As for the Roughriders, they bounced back from that early safety and didn't miss a beat, scoring at least one major in each period, finishing with 24 points in the fourth frame alone as Darian Durant threw a pair of touchdown passes to Taj Smith and also clicked with Geroy Simon for a five-yard score late in the outing. Simon tallied two majors on five catches.

Durant completed 24-of-35 passes for 315 yards and four touchdowns, offsetting his one interception. Sheets also earned high marks after being taken down in his own end zone as he tallied a game-high 91 yards and crossed the goal line twice on 20 rushing attempts.

While he may have been held out of the end zone, receiver Chris Getzlaf had a strong game with seven receptions for 112 yards at Mosaic Stadium. The effort by Getzlaf was his best of the season in terms of yardage, the number of catches second only to his eight grabs logged against Calgary back in early July.

As for Durant, the man who continues to feed Getzlaf and his receiving mates, he has completed close to 68 percent of his pass attempts and is easily on pace to surpass his yardage total of 3,878 from 2012. Last season, the signal caller finished with 20 TD passes and 12 interceptions, and already in 2013 he has dialed up 21 aerial majors and has tossed just that single pick from the last outing.

Because Durant has been nearly infallible, Saskatchewan is leading the way in the West Division standings with an 8-1 mark, yet that's still only two points ahead of Calgary and four over British Columbia. Since losing to the Stampeders by double digits back on Aug. 9, the Roughriders have rattled off three straight wins

While the Riders know exactly what they are getting with Durant every time he steps onto the field, the same cannot be said for Winnipeg when it comes to their quarterback position this season.

Buck Pierce was expected to be a top-notch signal-caller in the league here in 2013, but once again injuries have derailed all of those hopes. Pierce, who is again out of the lineup with an unspecified injury, has just two TD passes and six INTs on the campaign. Max Hall is also going to remain on the sidelines with injury issues this week, which leaves Goltz as the starting option for the Bombers.

Prior to this season, Goltz had completed a total of just seven passes in three seasons in the CFL and being thrown into the fire has not really helped his development with an efficiency rating of only 63.4, based on having tossed only two TDs and five picks.

Saskatchewan has now won five straight regular-season meetings versus the Blue Bombers, 10 of the last 11 as well, and yet it is Winnipeg which maintains a 113-88-3 edge in the all-time series, counting only regular-season matchups going all the way back to 1936.

The only thing the Riders have to be careful of this time around is being too confident versus Winnipeg. The visitors are easily the pick in this matchup once again, and it is just a matter of how quickly this game will get out of hand.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 38, Winnipeg 22

09/04 11:15:23 ET

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