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CFL Preview - Hamilton (5-5) at Calgary (8-2)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, September 13, 9:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Tied with Saskatchewan atop the West Division standings, the Calgary Stampeders turn their attention to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats who come calling on Friday night.

Calgary has rattled off three straight wins and seven victories in the last eight outings since splitting the first two games of the 2013 campaign. The most recent triumph for the Stamps, who now have 16 points to match the Roughriders, was a 22-12 decision over Edmonton on the road last week.

In that contest, the Stampeders scored in every period of play, with the bulk of the points coming from kicker extraordinaire Rene Paredes who nailed all five of his field goals and his lone PAT. Paredes, who recently set the CFL record for consecutive field goal conversions, leads the league in scoring with 122 points.

Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell had his ups and downs for Calgary, hitting on 19- of-26 passes for 175 yards and a score, but he was also picked off once and sacked four times. Giving the squad a significant lift in the ground game was Jon Cornish who gained a game-high 131 yards and just 14 attempts, adding another 46 yards and a major on six receptions as well.

While the Stampeders have been one of the more stable squads in the league this season, playing well for much of the time, the Tiger-Cats have been inconsistent to say the least. An even 5-5 at the moment, Hamilton is rather lucky to be sitting in second place in the East Division, just two points behind leader Toronto heading into Week 12 action.

Last weekend, the 'Cats exploded for 31 points between the second and third quarters, giving themselves a sizeable 34-8 lead over British Columbia heading into the final period of play, and yet Hamilton almost let that advantage disappear before pulling out a 37-29 victory.

Plagued by 11 penalties for a loss of 109 yards, not to mention a pair of interceptions by quarterback Henry Burris and another lost fumble, the Ticats were lucky to come away with the win. Burris finished the outing 25-of-35 for 375 yards and four touchdowns, with receivers Greg Ellingson, C.J. Gable and Andy Fantuz all catching at least six passes for more than 100 yards and a score. It was the first time since 2004 that a trio of receivers all went over the century mark for the Tiger-Cats.

Gable also led the way on the ground for the 'Cats with a game-high 49 net yards on nine attempts, although he was guilty of losing a fumble along the way. The running back has taken some of the heat off Burris this season, having gained 355 yards and scored four touchdowns on the ground, while averaging better than 5.5 yards per attempt, but still Burris is the biggest show in town.

The signal-caller is the first this season to breach the 3,000-yard passing plateau, now with 3,181 yards. The aging Temple University product threw for a career-high 5,367 yards and 43 TDs a season ago and could be on his way to topping his yardage total.

The four aerial majors for Burris were a season high, but at the same time some defenses have begun to figure him out, what with five of his nine picks in 2013 coming in the last three outings.

Nevertheless, Ellingson has been a pleasant surprise for the 'Cats this season, currently leading the team with 48 catches for 743 yards and six TDs. Gable has 19 fewer receptions, but is still second on the unit with four receiving scores.

Over on the other side Glenn, who was a member of the Tiger-Cats just a couple of years ago before being traded for Burris in January 2012, has been dealing with some injury issues this season and did not appear in last week's game. Because of the efforts of Glenn and Mitchell, Calgary has one of the better pass efficiency ratings (111.8) in the league after 10 games, based on the fact that the squad has registered 20 passing touchdowns and only four interceptions.

One of the top Canadians in the league, Cornish continues to give the Stamps a huge boost each and every time he steps onto the field. One of the league's top scorers with eight rushing majors and two more through the air, the running back is now second in the CFL in rushing yards with 940, averaging a hefty 6.8 yards per attempt in order to take some of the pressure off the quarterback position.

In terms of the all-time series between the programs, taking into consideration only regular-season bouts played since 1961, Calgary owns a 53-30 advantage thanks to six wins in the last seven matchups, including a narrow 34-32 win last October at home.

The teams are slated to face each other again two weeks from now in Hamilton.

With Burris, the Tiger-Cats have a gunslinger who is more than capable of carrying an offense. Add to that his incentive to beat up on his former mates and Hamilton actually has a fighting chance on the road this week.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Calgary 31, Hamilton 24

09/11 11:03:05 ET

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