CFL Preview - Calgary (7-4) at Saskatchewan (5-6)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Sunday, September 23, 4:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Like everyone else in the league at the moment, both the Calgary Stampeders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders are chasing the British Columbia Lions who have the best record in the CFL after 11 games.
This week, those two teams battle each other in an effort to draw a bit closer to the Lions in the West Division as they meet up on Sunday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium.
Calgary, which is an impressive 4-1 within the division this season, is actually the hottest team in the league at the moment, riding a four-game win streak and having won five of its last six outings after starting off the 2012 campaign with two wins in five tries. With the recent run of strong play, the Stamps are sitting in second place in the division, just two points behind the Lions heading into Week 13 action.
Saskatchewan appeared to have solved some of its issues after having lost five games in a row, thanks to back-to-back victories over Winnipeg, but the team fell right back into the loss column last Sunday when it bowed to Montreal by a score of 28-17. Part of the problem was that quarterback Darian Durant wasn't able to go for the Riders, leaving Drew Willy to become the first rookie QB to make a start for the club since Rocky Butler in 2002.
Considering the amount of pressure he was under, Willy had a decent outing as he completed 22-of-34 passes for 225 yards and a score, although he was picked off twice and sacked three times as he was welcomed to the league by the Montreal defenders. Weston Dressler tried to make it a comfortable transition for the youngster as he reeled in six balls for 78 yards, but it still wasn't enough.
Kory Sheets, who finished with three receptions for 37 yards and the lone passing score for Willy, did his best to give the Riders a presence in the running game as he gained a game-high 81 yards on 12 carries as well.
Heading into the matchup with the Als, Saskatchewan had been the least penalized team in the league, but maybe having someone else starting at quarterback rattled the squad as it finished with a whopping 17 flags for a loss of 181 yards.
While Durant would like nothing more than to get back onto the field and help his team during this playoff push, it sounds as though he understands that resting his injured hip and not taking unnecessary hits would probably be the best course of action at the moment.
No matter who is taking the snaps from center for the Roughriders, they'll be going up against a Calgary team that is coming off a considerable high from last week. The Stamps demolished visiting Winnipeg last Friday night, scoring the first 27 points of the meeting and never looking back en route to a 44-3 thrashing in Alberta.
Kevin Glenn converted 17-of-23 passes for 298 yards and a score, while running back Jon Cornish carried the ball 15 times for 53 yards and two TDs as the team gained 157 yards on the ground overall.
Nik Lewis reeled in seven passes for 131 yards, both of which were game highs. The effort also pushed the slotback over the 10,000-yard mark for his career, making him the 16th player in league history to reach the lofty plateau. Lewis now needs just 66 more yards to move into 14th place on the list ahead of Earl Winfield who finished with 10,119 yards.
With seven TDs, Lewis has the most receiving scores in the league through 11 games, his 822 yards on 68 receptions placing him fourth and first in the league, respectively. The only player in Calgary history to record eight straight seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving, Lewis is well on his way to making it nine in a row and with three more TD catches during this final stretch would also match his career high in that category as well.
While the Stamps have Lewis as their primary receiver, Dressler is the one filling out that spot for the Roughriders as he sits in sixth place in the league with 742 yards on 60 catches. Dressler is right behind Lewis in TD catches as well with six.
When it comes to the ground game, these clubs boast the two top runners in the CFL at this stage. Cornish tops the charts with 880 yards on 152 carries, leading to seven majors, while Sheets is second in yardage (761) and attempts (147) but is first in TDs (eight).
With respect to the all-time series between these two teams, Calgary continues to lead the way with a considerable 119-87-9 advantage, dating back to 1945 and only taking into account games played during the regular season.
The Stamps won a low-scoring affair last month at home, 17-10, which means the squad has now taken seven straight meetings and eight of the last nine from Saskatchewan. The Riders also dropped an overtime affair, 41-38, in July as well.
Even if Durant finds a way to make it back to the field this week, he won't be 100 percent and he might even be hesitant to run certain plays given his condition. Should Willy be back under center for the Roughriders, that ensures that Calgary has an advantage in this meeting.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Calgary 38, Saskatchewan 20
09/19 11:19:31 ET