CFL Preview - Toronto (6-4) at British Columbia (7-3)|
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 15, 7:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Two of the top teams in the league get together at BC Place this
weekend, as the British Columbia Lions entertain the Toronto Argonauts.
While the Argos are tied for first place in the East Division with the
Montreal Alouettes at 6-4, the Lions have the top spot in the West Division
all to themselves thanks to their seven victories in 10 opportunities. BC gave
itself a little breathing room last Saturday when the team crushed Montreal at
home in a 43-10 decision, marking the team's fifth win in the last six games.
Slightly more than a week after bowing to the Als on the road by a final of
30-25, British Columbia turned up the pressure on both sides of the ball and
completely dominated Montreal at home. Quarterback Travis Lulay had a monster
game for the Lions as he completed 23-of-31 passes for 262 yards and four
touchdowns, all of that coming without a single interception.
Lulay, who is now tied with Anthony Calvillo and Doug Flutie for the league's
all-time record with a TD pass in 21 straight games, easily got the job done
even though he was without Geroy Simon -- the league's all-time leader in
receiving yards was a scratch due to the lingering effects of a hamstring
injury sustained in the previous meeting with Montreal.
Running back Andrew Harris led the way on the ground with 14 carries for 67
yards and a late touchdown, while kicker Paul McCallum finished with 11 total
points, including a 43-yard field goal which began the game's scoring and
marked the 600th conversion of his 19-year career.
As for the Argonauts, they too broke out in a big way on the scoreboard last
week as they leveled Hamilton in a 45-31 final at home. Scoring at least one
major in each period the Argos, winners of two straight and three of the last
four outings, were paced by running back Chad Kackert who not only carried the
ball 16 times for 172 yards and three touchdowns, but also caught six passes
for a team-best 67 yards as he stole some of the spotlight away from Chad
Owens, who is usually the one who takes care of the all-purpose yards.
Owens did make significant contributions again of course, which is why he
continues to blow away the competition in combined yards with a massive 2,447
with still eight games to play in the regular season.
Ricky Ray wasn't able to sneak a pass into the end zone against Hamilton, but
still he completed all but six of his 32 pass attempts for 331 yards, shaking
off an interception and a couple of sacks along the way.
Having beefed up his accuracy recently, Ray is now hitting his attempts at a
70.2 percent clip, easily the top mark among regular starters in the league at
this stage of the season. However, even though Ray is just the second passer
to eclipse the 3,000-yard mark (Calvillo is first), the signal-caller is still
not getting the sort of final results his new team was expecting. In fact, Ray
has one of the lowest TD percentage rates in the league at just 3.0 and he has
more interceptions (10) than anyone which means his efficiency rating is
taking some major hits right now.
Over on the other side, Lulay has been a model of consistency for the
defending Grey Cup champions, his efficiency rating of 101.7 placing him third
in the league. Lulay may not be a household name like Calvillo or Flutie, but
should he toss at least one TD this week he'll be surpassing those two legends
in consecutive games with a passing major, and that's no minor feat.
When Lulay isn't on top of his game, he and the Lions have the luxury of
leaning on McCallum who leads the league in scoring with 98 points, second in
the CFL in made field goals with 22, so it is certainly comforting to know
that the BC offense can often be bailed out by a reliable leg.
It also doesn't hurt to have the top rushing attack in the league after 10
games, generating 130.5 ypg. Harris has quietly become the third-best ground
gainer in the CFL with his 610 yards, averaging better than six yards per
Kackert barely has half the yardage total (365 yards), but he has one more
rushing score (five) and is averaging a stellar 7.6 yards per attempt, which
is something that should give Ray some comfort, knowing that he doesn't always
have to do it all for his team.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Lions own a record of 50-31-2
versus Toronto in regular-season matchups dating back to 1954. BC won the most
recent meeting in August by a score of 18-9 on the road, which means the club
has now taken four straight and 14 of the last 15 encounters overall.
British Columbia has dominated at home this season, winning all but one of the
five dates inside the dome, and even though Ray and the Argos might score
their share of points this weekend, the meeting should still belong to the
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 27, Toronto 20
09/12 12:05:54 ET