Canadian Football League

CFL Preview - Toronto (6-4) at British Columbia (7-3)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 15, 7:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Two of the top teams in the league get together at BC Place this weekend, as the British Columbia Lions entertain the Toronto Argonauts.

While the Argos are tied for first place in the East Division with the Montreal Alouettes at 6-4, the Lions have the top spot in the West Division all to themselves thanks to their seven victories in 10 opportunities. BC gave itself a little breathing room last Saturday when the team crushed Montreal at home in a 43-10 decision, marking the team's fifth win in the last six games.

Slightly more than a week after bowing to the Als on the road by a final of 30-25, British Columbia turned up the pressure on both sides of the ball and completely dominated Montreal at home. Quarterback Travis Lulay had a monster game for the Lions as he completed 23-of-31 passes for 262 yards and four touchdowns, all of that coming without a single interception.

Lulay, who is now tied with Anthony Calvillo and Doug Flutie for the league's all-time record with a TD pass in 21 straight games, easily got the job done even though he was without Geroy Simon -- the league's all-time leader in receiving yards was a scratch due to the lingering effects of a hamstring injury sustained in the previous meeting with Montreal.

Running back Andrew Harris led the way on the ground with 14 carries for 67 yards and a late touchdown, while kicker Paul McCallum finished with 11 total points, including a 43-yard field goal which began the game's scoring and marked the 600th conversion of his 19-year career.

As for the Argonauts, they too broke out in a big way on the scoreboard last week as they leveled Hamilton in a 45-31 final at home. Scoring at least one major in each period the Argos, winners of two straight and three of the last four outings, were paced by running back Chad Kackert who not only carried the ball 16 times for 172 yards and three touchdowns, but also caught six passes for a team-best 67 yards as he stole some of the spotlight away from Chad Owens, who is usually the one who takes care of the all-purpose yards.

Owens did make significant contributions again of course, which is why he continues to blow away the competition in combined yards with a massive 2,447 with still eight games to play in the regular season.

Ricky Ray wasn't able to sneak a pass into the end zone against Hamilton, but still he completed all but six of his 32 pass attempts for 331 yards, shaking off an interception and a couple of sacks along the way.

Having beefed up his accuracy recently, Ray is now hitting his attempts at a 70.2 percent clip, easily the top mark among regular starters in the league at this stage of the season. However, even though Ray is just the second passer to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark (Calvillo is first), the signal-caller is still not getting the sort of final results his new team was expecting. In fact, Ray has one of the lowest TD percentage rates in the league at just 3.0 and he has more interceptions (10) than anyone which means his efficiency rating is taking some major hits right now.

Over on the other side, Lulay has been a model of consistency for the defending Grey Cup champions, his efficiency rating of 101.7 placing him third in the league. Lulay may not be a household name like Calvillo or Flutie, but should he toss at least one TD this week he'll be surpassing those two legends in consecutive games with a passing major, and that's no minor feat.

When Lulay isn't on top of his game, he and the Lions have the luxury of leaning on McCallum who leads the league in scoring with 98 points, second in the CFL in made field goals with 22, so it is certainly comforting to know that the BC offense can often be bailed out by a reliable leg.

It also doesn't hurt to have the top rushing attack in the league after 10 games, generating 130.5 ypg. Harris has quietly become the third-best ground gainer in the CFL with his 610 yards, averaging better than six yards per carry.

Kackert barely has half the yardage total (365 yards), but he has one more rushing score (five) and is averaging a stellar 7.6 yards per attempt, which is something that should give Ray some comfort, knowing that he doesn't always have to do it all for his team.

As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Lions own a record of 50-31-2 versus Toronto in regular-season matchups dating back to 1954. BC won the most recent meeting in August by a score of 18-9 on the road, which means the club has now taken four straight and 14 of the last 15 encounters overall.

British Columbia has dominated at home this season, winning all but one of the five dates inside the dome, and even though Ray and the Argos might score their share of points this weekend, the meeting should still belong to the hosts.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 27, Toronto 20

09/12 12:05:54 ET

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