CFL Preview - British Columbia (11-7) at Saskatchewan (11-7)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 10, 4:30 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: The hottest team in the CFL coming out of the gate in 2013 finds
itself competing in the West Division Semifinals on Sunday afternoon, as the
Saskatchewan Roughriders entertain the British Columbia Lions at Mosaic
Saskatchewan kicked off the campaign with five straight victories and wins in
eight of its first nine games, but then the Riders hit more than a few
stumbling blocks which included a four-game slide and back-to-back defeats to
close out the regular season, which is why they are playing this weekend and
not enjoying added time to prepare for the division final.
The Lions, who were immediately in chase mode as they tried to catch up to
Saskatchewan, managed to produce a couple of three-game win streaks this year
and also posted consecutive triumphs in the final weeks in order to match the
Riders' record overall.
Last season, BC was the clear-cut, regular-season leader with a 13-5 record,
winning the West Division by a game over Calgary, while the Roughriders
finished two games below .500, but because the bottom teams in the East
Division were worse than the rest of the teams in the league, Saskatchewan was
given entrance into the postseason where it bowed to the Stampeders in the
semifinals by a score of 36-30.
With Calgary advancing to the division finals in 2012, the Lions ended up
having their hands full and eventually suffered a 34-29 loss at home.
With regard to success in the playoffs over the years, more specifically each
team's response to playing in the Grey Cup, the Roughriders have had the worst
luck of any active club in that title tilt over the years. Saskatchewan has
appeared in a total of 18 Grey Cups, but taken home the prestigious trophy a
mere three times. The last of those championships came in 2007 when the team
topped Winnipeg at Rogers Centre, 23-19.
Saskatchewan has appeared in the championship game two times since winning it
all, but in 2009 the Riders suffered a narrow 28-27 setback to Montreal and
then a year later it was the same story versus the Alouettes, this time being
a 21-18 final.
British Columbia has appeared in the fewest Grey Cup Championships of any of
the current eight league members, only 10, but still the Lions have twice as
many trophies as the Roughriders. It was just two years ago that the Lions
posted a 34-23 win over Winnipeg in their home stadium, BC Place.
This year the challenge might be a bit bigger for the Lions, seeing as how
they fielded their third different starting quarterback of the season in their
final outing, a 26-7 victory over visiting Calgary on Nov. 1. In that contest,
Buck Pierce took the field for the Lions, although so did Thomas DeMarco and
Travis Lulay, even though there really was nothing left to play for with the
playoff picture already set.
While there was some uncertainty at quarterback for the Lions this season, it
shouldn't come as much of a surprise to find that the squad ranked next-to-
last in the league with just 4,408 passing yards and produced an efficiency
rating of 88.4.
Over on the other side, Darian Durant was one of the most reliable passers as
far as durability was concerned, starting all but two games, one of which was
the season finale. Durant may have had some trouble with overall accuracy at
times, but in the final tally he still led the league with 31 passing TDs,
against just 12 INTs.
In addition to having a solid passer orchestrating the offense for the Riders,
the defense was also something to behold as it led the league in points
allowed at 22.1 ppg.
In terms of their matchups during the 2013 regular season, these teams played
a total of three times, all within a span of just five weeks between Sept. 22
and Oct. 19, with the Roughriders posting back-to-back victories after
dropping the first encounter by a mere two points, 24-22. The latest triumph
was a lopsided 35-14 final at home for a Saskatchewan team that scored 21
points in the second quarter and 31 in the first half in order to pull away
for the comfortable victory.
The team that survives this battle will be back in action next week against
Calgary in the West Division Finals, for the right to take part in the 101st
Grey Cup at Mosaic Stadium later this month.
Both teams played well at home this season, the Lions posting eight wins in
nine tries at BC Place, but on the road British Columbia managed to log only
three victories in nine chances, something that could work in favor of
Saskatchewan this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 29, British Columbia 24
11/06 11:07:11 ET
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