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CFL Preview - British Columbia (7-4) at Saskatchewan (8-3)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Sunday, September 22, 4:30 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Geroy Simon will try to make history on Sunday against his former mates when the Saskatchewan Roughriders challenge the visiting British Columbia Lions at Mosaic Stadium.

Simon, who spent a dozen years as a member of the Lions after he broke into the league with Winnipeg, is on the verge of becoming the CFL's all-time leader in receptions, needing just five more to match Ben Cahoon who set the mark with 1,017 receptions just a few years ago. Already the all-time leader in receiving yards with 16,128, Simon had five grabs last week for the Roughriders, but still the team came up short against Toronto at home, 31-29.

Saskatchewan, a winner in eight of the first nine games this season, has now dropped back-to-back decisions which means the squad has fallen to second place in the West Division standings behind streaking Calgary.

The Riders were led by quarterback Darian Durant who completed 24-of-49 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns, but he was also picked off three times and suffered two sacks. One of those takedowns behind the line of scrimmage came on a late two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the score and possibly sent the meeting into overtime.

Durant tossed a pair of TDs to Chris Getzlaf who reeled in five balls for 133 yards, but still Simon garnered more than enough attention as he closed in on the all-time receptions record and made a spectacular one-handed grab during the meeting.

Despite the efforts of Durant, Getzlaf and Simon, there were more than a few sour notes played by the Riders, namely their 16 penalties for a loss of 163 yards. The other bad news came when league-leading running back Kory Sheets went down with a right knee sprain and did not return to action.

On Tuesday it was announced that Sheets would miss this weekend's matchup, which means the Riders have to find a replacement for a player who had compiled 1,222 yards and eight touchdowns on 213 rushing attempts through 11 games. When it comes to the second-best option for running the ball in Saskatchewan, Durant has the most yards with 249 yards. However, a more telling stat might be that no one else on the roster has scored a rushing touchdown this year other than Sheets.

While the Roughriders are trying to figure out their next move when finding a replacement for Sheets, the Lions have similar issues concerning their quarterback. During BC's lopsided 36-14 win over Montreal on Sunday, Travis Lulay went down with a shoulder injury and never returned, not that the Lions needed him with their significant scoring margin.

Lulay scored a touchdown on a 14-yard run early in the fourth quarter and was visibly shaken up after hitting the turf. He favored his arm coming off the field as medical staff tended to him. The signal caller finished 19-of-28 for 197 yards through the air and it was recently announced that Lulay will most likely miss the next two weeks while he heals.

British Columbia, which has alternated wins and losses over the last five outings, is now third in the West Division standings with a record of 7-4 overall, just two points behind the Riders and four off the pace set by the Stampeders. The Lions will try to pick up ground over the next couple of weeks with quite possibly Thomas DeMarco as the starter at quarterback.

DeMarco came in after Lulay left last week, converting four of his six passes for 47 yards and a score. An import from Old Dominion, DeMarco has completed a grand total of 15 passes over the past two seasons with the Lions, which means he'll be thrown into the fire if he is the one to get the start this week.

In an ironic twist, just recently the Lions decided to trade for Winnipeg quarterback Buck Pierce and bring him back to BC where he spent a number of years. Pierce is also supposed to be preparing for this weekend as if he were to be given the start, so while he might not be as familiar with all of the schemes and players, his experience in game action far exceeds that of DeMarco.

No matter who it is handling the snaps this time around for the Lions, the team will need running back Andrew Harris to make much more of an impact in order to level the playing field. Harris has three games this season with at least 100 yards rushing, but over the last several weeks he has been almost a non-factor with a total of just 135 yards amassed in the last four outings.

This is the first of three meetings between these division rivals, the other two coming in a span of just over two weeks in the month of October. In terms of the all-time series, the Riders are ahead by a count of 92-82-4, although BC won the most recent meeting last November in a 17-6 final.

It would be poetic justice for sure if Simon were to break the receptions record against his old team, but you can be sure the veteran receiver would say that winning the game is the most important part of those 60 minutes on the field. As long as Durant isn't exposed to too many hits and he can stay upright for the entire game, this is one that should favor the Roughriders.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 36, British Columbia 24

09/18 11:05:31 ET

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