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CFL Preview - British Columbia (9-3) at Saskatchewan (6-6)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 29, 10:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: The team with the best overall record in the Canadian Football League after 12 games tries to log a fourth straight win this weekend, as the British Columbia Lions clash with the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium.

British Columbia, the defending Grey Cup champion, has stumbled only a handful of times in 2012. Since bowing to Saskatchewan and Edmonton in back-to-back outings in July, the team has captured seven wins in eight opportunities and is currently enjoying a three-game win streak thanks to a narrow 19-18 triumph at Edmonton last weekend.

BC fell behind the Eskimos early and needed a strong defensive stand in the second half, holding the hosts to just three points in order to come away with the victory. Getting most of the credit was kicker Paul McCallum who knocked in a 46-yard field goal with just over one minute remaining in regulation to put the visitors on top.

Quarterback Travis Lulay continued to be the guiding force for the Lions as he threw for 260 yards and a touchdown, which means he has tossed at least one scoring pass in every game this season and 23 in a row dating back to last year, which means he is second all-time in that department.

The other good news for the Lions is that receiver Geroy Simon, who in the first game of the season broke the league's all-time record for receiving yards, finally logged his first major of the season on a six-yard toss from Lulay in the fourth quarter. Simon, who entered the season having registered nine straight seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards, still has a chance to reach that lofty plateau yet again, but he'll have to become more integral to the offense after having just 46 catches for 635 yards through 12 games.

Also having a quality outing for BC in the win over Edmonton was Andrew Harris who led the team not only with a game-high 103 rushing yards on 11 attempts, he also tied for the team lead with 78 yards on 10 receptions as well. Harris now leads the league in yards from scrimmage with an even 1,300, that number placing him seventh in the CFL at this stage when it comes to combined yards overall as well.

As for the Roughriders, they took part in the final game of week 13 and barely held on to take out visiting Calgary by a score of 30-25. Quarterback Darian Durant tossed a pair of TDs in the third quarter to give the Riders a bit of a cushion, finishing 22-of-35 for 264 yards and, perhaps most importantly, without a sack or interception. Possession receiver Weston Dressler had one of the two TD catches, part of his eight catches for 98 yards on the day.

Sandro DeAngelis also played a crucial role for Saskatchewan as he logged 12 points, thanks in part to three successful field goals.

Running back Kory Sheets, now second in the league in rushing with 819 yards, but first with eight majors on the ground, put up modest numbers last week with nine carries for 58 yards.

Because of Sheets, Saskatchewan is currently second in the league in rushing touchdowns with 12 as the group averages close to six yards per attempt. Taking some of the pressure off Durant, the Riders are also second in the CFL with 91 first downs on runs.

By all accounts, Durant could use even more of an effort from Sheets and the running backs from Saskatchewan, particularly this week, because the signal- caller hasn't had the best of luck in his career versus British Columbia by any stretch. In fact, over the last four matchups that Durant has participated, he hasn't thrown a single touchdown and has been picked off five times. Over the course of 19 games against the Lions, Durant has nearly twice as many INTs (20) as he does TDs (11) and those are not encouraging numbers.

Then again, maybe Durant is due to have a break-out game against BC. But on the other side it could be said that the signal-caller simply has some sort of mental block when it comes to facing this opponent and the numbers might never really fall in his favor even if Saskatchewan does find a way to play up to the level of the Lions this week.

The Riders own a 91-81-4 advantage in the all-time, regular-season series against BC dating back to 1954, but the most recent meeting fell in favor of the Lions last month, 24-5, at home. As a result, British Columbia has now taken five of the last six battles with Saskatchewan.

Playing at home has certainly favored the Roughriders so far this season. The team has the best scoring defense in the league in home bouts, giving up just 98 points in six decisions, but by the same token the Lions are the most successful road team in the league at this stage as well, so something has to give on Saturday night.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 27, Saskatchewan 20

09/26 11:19:44 ET


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