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CFL Preview - Montreal (6-3) at British Columbia (6-3)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 8, 4:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: The two best teams in their respective divisions do it all over again on Saturday afternoon, as the Montreal Alouettes and the British Columbia Lions get together at BC Place for a replay of their Labour Day Weekend event.

Last Friday night, these two teams tangled at Stade Percival-Molson Stadium where the Alouettes squeezed out a 30-25 win in order to move to 6-3 and alone atop the East Division standings. Despite the setback, one that snapped a four-game win streak, the Lions as still the top team over in the west as well.

As if getting better with age, a 40-year-old Anthony Calvillo set a new CFL record with his eighth straight 300-yard passing game, as he finished 19-of-31 for 321 yards and two touchdowns in the close call, one that required a two- yard TD run by Brandon Whitaker late in the fourth quarter to get the Als over the hump for the fourth straight outing.

Whitaker did it all for Montreal as he paced the team on the ground with 48 yards on nine carries, and also reeled in six passes for another 64 yards and two majors.

Over on the BC side, Travis Lulay converted 24-of-39 pass attempts for 275 yards and a couple of scores himself as he shook off a pair of sacks. There was an Arland Bruce sighting as the receiver caught a season-high six passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns, the latter matching his entire total for the season heading into the meeting.

Geroy Simon contributed three catches for another 31 yards for the Lions, but while he may be the league's all-time leader in receiving yards with 15,554 on 970 catches, the slotback is still without a receiving touchdown this season and might be in danger of having his run of consecutive 1,000-yard receiving campaigns snapped at nine in a row if he doesn't become more involved in the offense.

Unfortunately for Simon, there must be something about playing the Als over his career because in the last 17 games against Montreal, he has just eight receiving scores on 86 catches and only two majors since the start of the 2007 campaign. Leaving the game at the half due to injury didn't help Simon or the Lions at all either.

If not for the efforts of kicker Paul McCallum and his three successful field goals, 12 points overall, the Lions may not have even been in contention against Montreal. Now second in the league in overall scoring with 87 points, McCallum trails only Sean Whyte (89 points) who does the job for, you guessed it, Montreal.

Thanks to the efforts of Calvillo and Whyte, the Alouettes are second in the league in scoring through nine games with 29.2 ppg, the team having scored the most TDs in the league with 29. Again at the top of the passing yards list, Calvillo needs just 22 more yards to reach 3,000 for the season and is currently second in passing TDs with 20. Thanks to having just seven picks in 317 attempts, Calvillo has the best pass efficiency rating (106.2) at this stage of the season as well.

As great a passer as he has been in this league for so many years, Calvillo hasn't always had his best outings against the Lions. In the last 16 matchups, the signal-caller has been sacked a total of 42 times and has tossed 13 interceptions, all against a mere 24 touchdowns which for Calvillo is sub- standard for sure.

Seeing defensive back Korey Banks lining up against him cannot be a comforting feeling at all for Calvillo since it was Banks who registered the lone interception of the gunslinger last week. For Banks, it was the 35th pick of his career and eventually led to three points for the Lions.

Thanks to the effort by Banks, the Lions are now second in the league in turnover margin at plus-six, just one behind Edmonton. While still on the positive side of the ledger, Montreal is further down on that list with just a plus-two through nine games.

Thanks to the victory last weekend, Calvillo and the Als have taken two of the last three meetings with British Columbia and four of the last six overall, yet it is BC that owns a 33-31-1 edge in the all-time, regular-season series dating back to 1954.

Certainly seen as the most important game of this coming week, this is a matchup that could go either way, although one would think the Lions would have the edge playing at home where they are 3-1 and the Als playing just .500 (2-2) on the road. Unfortunately, most games in the CFL rarely follow trends and it is players like Calvillo that tend to make all the difference.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 35, British Columbia 27

09/05 11:10:26 ET


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