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CFL Preview - British Columbia (8-4) at Winnipeg (2-10)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, September 27, 8:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Losers of two straight and nine of the last 10 outings overall, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers continue to fight through a troubling campaign as they host the British Columbia Lions at Investors Group Field on Friday night.

More often than not the Blue Bombers have taken it on the chin this season, losing by double figures, but last week the squad could have easily landed back in the win column. Ahead 27-11 in the third quarter, Winnipeg appeared destined to break through against visiting Edmonton, but then the Eskimos went on a run, forced overtime and scored the game-winning touchdown on a nine-yard run by Hugh Charles.

Max Hall took over at quarterback for the Blue Bombers, hitting on 18-of-27 passes for 253 yards and a score, but he was sacked two times and had a couple of attempts picked off. With three lost fumbles and 14 penalties for a loss of 129 yards, Edmonton tried to hand the game to the Bombers, but it just didn't happen as Winnipeg allowed 521 yards to the visitors.

A distant fourth in the East Division standings, the Bombers are easily the weakest team in the league overall, sporting records of only 1-5 both at home and on the road.

As for British Columbia, which still has a combined four games against Calgary and Saskatchewan, teams which are 9-3 and 8-4, respectively, left on the schedule, it captured a thrilling 24-22 win over Saskatchewan on Sunday. The victory was the second in a row and the third in four games for a BC squad that is tied with the Roughriders for second place in the West Division standings.

Kicker Paul McCallum, who knocked through the game-winning field goal from 42 yards out as time expired, finished with three field goals and 11 points overall for the Lions in the road win.

Youngster Thomas DeMarco made the start at quarterback for BC, converting 18- of-33 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns, while being sacked twice. Making a brief appearance was newly-acquired Buck Pierce who hit on two of his three pass attempts for 16 yards, but he too was sacked twice in limited action.

British Columbia came away with the win even as the team ran for only 67 yards and compiled 291 yards of total offense.

As of Tuesday, the BC roster was a bit crammed with quarterbacks, although Travis Lulay may still not be ready for heavy contact. Pierce has shown that he is a viable option should DeMarco have any problems this weekend and now Joey Elliott is back in the mix as well. Honestly, the offense runs most efficiently when Lulay is handling the snaps, so don't be surprised if he's back on the field sooner than expected.

Over on the other side, the picture could not get any murkier at the quarterback spot, particularly since the Blue Bombers sent Pierce packing. Hall and Justin Goltz have been left to sort out the mess in Winnipeg, and at this point both are probably hoping just to get through the remaining games without suffering major injury.

Neither signal caller has done much to distinguish himself as a leader for the future, with both having tossed just two touchdowns while being intercepted a combined 12 times. As a team, Winnipeg is last in the league in passing with just 2,490 yards and a woeful six majors against 19 interceptions, which is tied for the most in the CFL.

These two teams met back during Week 6, with the Lions capturing a 27-20 win at home. Back when he was still on the BC roster, Lulay converted 28-of-39 pass attempts for 268 yards and three touchdowns, surviving four sacks along the way. While coming up with only 337 yards of total offense, the Lions may have thought they'd be at a disadvantage, but Winnipeg managed a mere 227 yards on 78 plays.

Goltz handled the quarterback duties for the Bombers, converting 13-of-28 passes for 112 yards and an interception. Goltz did score once on the ground, as did Chad Simpson in the setback.

Despite coming out on the losing end the first time around, Winnipeg still holds an 83-74-2 advantage in the all-time, regular-season series between the clubs, dating back to 1954. Nevertheless, British Columbia has still won three in a row over the Bombers.

The irony here would be if Pierce were to get into the game for the Lions and play well enough to be a key factor in his current team's win over his former employers. Even if that doesn't happen, assume BC will still come out on top.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 28, Winnipeg 22

09/25 10:42:15 ET

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