Canadian Football League

CFL Preview - Toronto (7-9) at Saskatchewan (8-8)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 27, 4:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: With a spot in the playoffs already secured, the Saskatchewan Roughriders try to improve their standing in the Western Division as they tangle with the Toronto Argonauts at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Saskatchewan can't catch British Columbia for first place in the division, the Lions already have that sewn up, but at least the Roughriders are not fighting for their playoff lives like Toronto which needs to win at least one of the next two outings to clinch a postseason berth.

The Argos have been shooting themselves in the proverbial foot over and over again in recent weeks. It wasn't that long ago that Toronto was making a serious run in the Eastern Division with a record of 6-4, but since then the team has dropped five of six contests, including three in a row after bowing to Winnipeg at home last week, 44-32.

Against the Blue Bombers in their own building, the Argonauts allowed double- digit scoring in each quarter and, more specifically, a Winnipeg squad to run the ball an astounding 43 times for 260 yards and four touchdowns. The rushing attempts were the most allowed in any game in more than a decade, and the Bombers showed that it most certainly, when done correctly, can earn a team a victory.

Attempting to counter for the Argonauts was quarterback Ricky Ray who converted 20-of-33 passes for 383 yards and four touchdowns, but unlike the visitors, Toronto gained just 53 yards on the ground.

Receiver Jason Barnes lit up the scoreboard by taking three of his four receptions into the end zone, while Andre Durie added six catches for a game- high 128 yards and a major as well.

Chad Owens, who is trying to become the first player in history to register 4,000 combined yards in a single season, was left with a mixed bag against Winnipeg as he caught five passes for 108 yards, produced another 122 yards on six kickoff returns and tallied 56 yards on punt returns, but at the same time fumbled the ball away twice.

Owens, already the only player in CFL history to register three straight seasons with at least 3,000 combined yards, now has 3,557 yards with two games remaining to reach what could easily be considered CFL immortality. However, a more reasonable goal or expectation would have Owens gaining at least 284 yards in the final pair of outings in order to set a new single-season record in the league, surpassing Mike Clemons who in 1997 piled up 3,840 yards.

Another milestone that is certainly within reach is becoming the first player in CFL history to lead the league in both kick return yards and receiving yards in the same campaign.

Like the Argos, Saskatchewan also landed in the loss column last week, the second time in as many games, but dropping a 34-28 decision to Montreal at home was not nearly as devastating for the Roughriders.

Against the Alouettes, Saskatchewan trailed by 20 points in the final frame but made a game of it as Darian Durant threw a nine-yard TD pass to Weston Dressler and then Kory Sheets recorded a one-yard TD run later in the fourth before the team was finally defeated. Sheets finished with just 45 yards on 10 carries and Durant was 24-of-40 for 219 yards in the losing cause. Dressler did manage to notch a 66-yard punt return for a score in the second period.

Although he completed just one pass for a single yard, backup quarterback Drew Willy made it count as he found Graeme Bell for a touchdown early on.

Now tied for second in the league in touchdowns with 13, Dressler leads the league in receiving yards with 1,189, tying his career high, while his 92 catches are also a personal best. For the third straight year and fourth time in five seasons, Dressler is up over 1,000 receiving yards.

In terms of the all-time, regular-season series between these two clubs, the Riders hold a 45-35-1 edge dating back to 1945. The teams faced each other earlier this month with Saskatchewan posting a 36-10 victory on the road, which means the Riders have now won two straight and seven of the last nine encounters overall.

In that most recent meeting, the teams combined for 28 penalties, leading to a ridiculous 221 yards of lost field position. While he wasn't the deciding factor in the 26-point decision, kicker Sandro DeAngelis did play a pivotal role with five field goals and 18 total points.

The top priority for the Argonauts is for them to make a strong play for the postseason and then comes the chemistry between Ray and Owens, which could put Toronto over the top this weekend.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toronto 31, Saskatchewan 27

10/24 11:35:47 ET

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