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CFL Preview - Saskatchewan (8-5) at British Columbia (9-4)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, October 4, 10:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Now that Geroy Simon has finally assumed his position as the CFL's all-time career receptions leader he, like the rest of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, can focus their attention on the British Columbia Lions as the teams meet up at BC Place on Friday night.

Simon, who is now in his 15th CFL season, 12 of which were spent with BC, reeled in three passes for 47 yards last week in a 17-12 loss at Montreal. The receiver logged his record-breaking 1,018th career reception on a seven-yard pass from quarterback Darian Durant during the first quarter and now has 1,020 catches in his illustrious career. For the season, Simon has posted 31 catches for 448 yards and three TDs, which isn't bad for an aging slotback from the University of Maryland.

Unfortunately, while there was clearly reason to cheer for Simon's monumental accomplishment, the Riders still came up short against a Montreal team that has been juggling quarterbacks for several weeks now. Since ripping off eight wins in nine games to start the 2013 campaign, Saskatchewan has now bowed in four straight and that has the team in third place in the West Division standings, on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason for the time being.

Fellow receiver Chris Getzlaf responded with six catches for a team-best 124 yards and Weston Dressler added 92 yards and a major on six grabs as well, but at the same time Durant was having his problems in the pocket. The signal caller managed to complete 24-of-46 pass attempts for 339 yards and that one score to Dressler, but he was intercepted three times and sacked on four occasions.

Providing almost no support was a running attack that accounted for a woeful 15 net yards on nine carries.

While Saskatchewan was being sent to the loss column yet again last week, the Lions were putting a serious beating on Winnipeg, delivering a 53-17 blowout win on the road last Friday night.

There were more than a few highlights to be found on both sides of the ball for the Lions during their dominant performance, the team owning a 33-7 advantage in the second quarter and going up 47-14 in the second half. The defense for the Lions picked off three passes and registered four sacks, not to mention recovering three of the five fumbles committed by the Blue Bombers.

In fact, the first points of the night came on a fumble return of 30 yards for a touchdown by Adam Bighill. The linebacker, who is fifth in the league in tackles with 67 and is tied for second on the Lions with five sacks, finished with ten tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles as he picked up CFL Defensive Player of the Week honors.

BC quarterback Thomas DeMarco converted 15-of-21 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown, adding another major on the ground before giving way to Buck Pierce who stepped in and hit half of his eight passes during the dominating performance.

Thanks to Bighill, the BC defense garnered some much-deserved attention last week and now the team can brag about being tops in the league with just 308.6 ypg allowed. The squad is first in the CFL when it comes to stopping the run, permitting just 83.9 ypg, the average rushing attempting yielding only 4.8 yards.

The Lions will have to go on the attack once more this week as well, considering Saskatchewan leads the league in offense (385.0 ypg) and is second in scoring (29.8 ppg). While he may have had his struggles last week, most of the offensive success for the Riders can be attributed to Durant, who is second in passing with 3,361 yards and is tops with 27 touchdowns through the air. Durant's play continues to be of the utmost importance given that Kory Sheets, the league's leading rusher with 1,222 yards, is still on the injured list.

In terms of the all-time series between the clubs, one that takes into account only regular-season meetings dating back to 1954, the Riders hold a 92-83-4 advantage over BC. However, the Lions have won two straight matchups, including a 24-22 final just two weeks ago on the road when kicker Paul McCallum knocked through a 42-yard field goal as time expired for the visitors.

The teams are also slated to face each other once more in the regular season, with an Oct. 19 matchup set for Saskatchewan.

Should the Roughriders come out on top this week, or Edmonton suffer a loss against Montreal, Saskatchewan will ensure itself a spot in the postseason according to potential playoff scenarios. The problem is, while BC has already secured a playoff appearance, the Lions are still in a battle for a potential first-place finish in the division with Calgary and now is not the time to have a let-down

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 28, Saskatchewan 24

10/02 10:44:59 ET

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