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CFL Preview - Calgary (5-2) at Toronto (5-2)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Friday, August 23, 7:30 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Two teams coming off close decisions last week head back to the football field at Rogers Centre on Friday night as the Toronto Argonauts aim to take out the Calgary Stampeders.
The good news for the Argos is that they actually won their meeting with Edmonton on Sunday evening by a score of 36-33 at home, thanks in part to a crucial 26-yard field goal by Noel Prefontaine late on the fourth quarter. The victory was the fourth straight for a Toronto squad that is two games up on the rest of the East Division, sporting a record of 5-2.
Unfortunately for the Stampeders, their close call during Week 8 action did not finish as favorably as they bowed to British Columbia by four points on the road, 26-22. The defeat snapped a four-game slide and prevented Calgary from keeping pace with Saskatchewan atop the West Division standings. Instead, the Stamps are now 5-2 overall and tied with BC for second place.
Calgary scored in every quarter against the Lions last weekend, but tallied just three in both the third and fourth frames during the setback. Quarterback Kevin Glenn converted 22-of-38 passes for 199 yards and a score, while Jon Cornish contributed with a game-high 73 yards and a major on 15 rushing attempts, but it still wasn't enough to hold off a BC squad that tallied a kickoff return for a score after the Cornish TD in the first quarter.
Despite the loss, there were still a few items that could be applauded by the Stampeders, namely their three interceptions of Travis Lulay and two more field goals made by kicker Rene Paredes, running his consecutive streak to 38 in a row and he continues to push his record-setting number to new heights.
As for the Argos, they got caught up in a game that produced close to 1,100 yards of total offense. Quarterback Zach Collaros actually kicked off the game's scoring with a 45-yard major to Alexander Robinson, but it was Ricky Ray who grabbed the spotlight the rest of the way.
Ray threw a total of 35 passes, missing on only five of them, as he generated 413 yards and three touchdowns en route to being named the CFL Offensive Player of the Week.
The recipient of a six-yard TD strike in the third quarter, Chad Owens finished the outing with nine catches for 102 yards, adding another 78 yards on five kickoff returns, 46 yards on four punt returns and 15 yards on a pair of rushing attempts.
John Chiles stepped up his efforts with a team-best 135 yards and a score on five catches.
As well as the offense operated for the Argos the last time out, the same could not be said for the defense, particularly the secondary which was picked apart by Mike Reilly as the quarterback threw for a career-high 511 yards and three touchdowns.
After seven games, Toronto's pass defense ranks last in the league with 307.9 ypg allowed, and is one of three units with just four interceptions at this stage.
Luckily, the Argonauts have Ray to turn to when the defense is being far too lenient. Ray is second in the league in total passing yards with 1,768, second in passing scores with 14 and by far the most accurate of the regular starters with 78.1 percent of his attempts being completed. Add to all of that the fact that he has yet to throw an interception this season on 183 attempts, and it is easy to see why he is by far the most efficient passer in the CFL with a rating of 133.0.
Owens has actually dropped to second in the league in receiving yards with 572, one behind Fred Stamps of Edmonton after the latter caught six balls for a season-high 172 yards versus the Argos. Nevertheless, Owens is still tops in the league in combined yards with 1,395, one of only two players to have eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau after seven games.
While Toronto leans on Ray and Owens, the Stamps have their own superstar coming out of the backfield in Cornish, currently second in the CFL in rushing yards (749) and first in rushing TDs (eight). Cornish has nine majors overall which also paces the league right now.
And don't forget the leg of Paredes which has been piling up the points this season, now at a league-high 80.
Dating back to 2004, and taking into consideration only regular-season matchups, Toronto has won nine of 17 meetings between the squads, and that includes a run of five straight heading into this particular battle. The most recent triumph for the Argos took place last August as the team captured a 22-14 victory on the road.
The last win for the Stamps versus Toronto came in the 2010 season opener when Calgary picked up a 30-16 home triumph, the start of what would become nine wins in the first 10 games of that campaign.
The teams, which met during the 100th Grey Cup (a 35-22 win for Toronto), are scheduled to play each other once more during the 2013 regular season, with Calgary hosting the Argos a month from now during Week 13 action.
Because the Argos have the one-two punch of Owens and Ray, that should be enough for the team to survive another weak effort by the defense and get into the win column once more.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toronto 31, Calgary 26
08/21 10:39:19 ET