Canadian Football League

CFL Preview - Edmonton (7-8) at British Columbia (11-4)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, October 19, 10:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: With a first-place finish is the West Division on the line and a berth in the Western Division Final within reach, the British Columbia Lions turn their attention to the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday night at BC Place.

Already having claimed a spot in the postseason with the best record in the CFL after 15 games, the Lions have won two straight and five of their last six outings thanks to a 37-17 romp over Hamilton last week.

In that contest quarterback Travis Lulay, who celebrated the birth of a new child earlier this week, converted 27-of-34 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns, extending his streak of consecutive games with at least one passing major to 26 straight, which means he is closing in on the all-time CFL record held by Sam Etcheverry who put together a run of 34 games in a row.

Andrew Harris not only led the way on the ground for the Lions with 68 yards and a score on 16 carries, he also reeled in one of Lulay's TD strikes as he posted 53 yards on five receptions. Responsible for 93 yards on six catches, Courtney Taylor registered the other aerial major for the visitors against the Tiger-Cats.

Not to be overlooked in the 20-point decision on the road, kicker Paul McCallum connected on all three of his field goal attempts and finished with 13 points overall, giving him 152 points on the season which is easily the top mark in the league. McCallum has a league-best 43 field goals thus far, hitting the mark at an 81.4 percent clip. Not only has the kicker controlled a lot of the action this season for the Lions, he is now fifth on the all-time scoring list in the CFL with 2,698 points.

As for the Eskimos, they scored a similar outcome in their battle with visiting Saskatchewan last week as the team posted a 37-20 win at home over the Roughriders in order to move to 7-8 on the season and keep hope alive for the playoffs. At 7-8, Edmonton sits in last place in the West Division, but were the team over in the East Division that record would be good enough for a second-place tie with Toronto and just two wins out of first place.

After finally breaking the ice late in the first quarter, Edmonton ended up rattling off 20 straight points to take command of the meeting and capture a fifth home win in eight opportunities. Kerry Joseph was instrumental in the triumph as the quarterback hit on 19-of-29 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns, all without throwing a single interception or even being sacked one time.

Fred Stamps, Cary Koch and Nate Coehoorn all landed in the end zone following receptions for Edmonton, while Hugh Charles raced 27 yards across the goal line on one of his 17 attempts, finishing with a career-high 152 rushing yards overall on his way to earning CFL Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Not to be overlooked was kicker Grant Shaw who earned himself CFL Special Teams Player of the Week accolades as he recorded 13 points, thanks to three of out four successful field goals for the Esks as they picked up their second win in a row after bowing in five straight outings and six of the previous seven decisions.

Despite being shuffled in and out of the lineup at quarterback, Joseph has responded favorably in recent weeks for Edmonton by throwing for six touchdowns, accounting for more than half of his scoring tosses (11) on the campaign. Stamps has made himself more of a factor in recent weeks for Edmonton as well, catching at least one TD pass in each of his last three games, half of his total for the entire season. With 58 receptions, Stamps leads the team and is just 37 yards away from posting a fourth straight season with at least 1,000 yards.

The top receiver for the Lions right now is Harris who has reeled in 69 balls for 682 yards and four TDs. Attacking from all angles, Harris is currently third in the league with 983 yards rushing on 160 attempts as well, adding another six majors by way of the run.

In Harris, Lulay has a safety valve like none other in the league and that has certainly contributed to the success of the quarterback who is having one of his finest seasons as a pro with more than 4,100 yards and 27 touchdowns, against just 10 INTs, which has served to generate a rating of 101.3 which is second in the league behind only Hamilton's Henry Burris.

British Columbia has lost a total of just four games this season, but one of those came against the Eskimos back on July 20 by a score of 27-14 on the road. In that meeting the Lions were held to a season-low in points and were outscored 21-7 in the second half even as Lulay threw for 360 yards. That was also the lone loss in the last 13 home games for the Lions since returning to BC Place.

More recently, BC posted a narrow 19-18 win over Edmonton during Week 13 action last month which means the all-time, regular-season series now stands at 103-72-4 in favor of the Esks dating back to 1954.

Knowing that they've secured a spot in the postseason might make the Lions take their foot off the pedal a bit at this stage, but as long as Lulay is calling the shots nothing is settled until his team hoists another Grey Cup.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 31, Edmonton 25

10/17 11:43:29 ET

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