CFL Preview - Saskatchewan (5-5) at Montreal (6-4)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Sunday, September 16, 1:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: In an attempt to match their longest win streak of the season, the Saskatchewan Roughriders give it a go at Stade Percival-Molson Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as they challenge the Montreal Alouettes.
The Roughriders got the 2012 campaign off on the right foot with three straight victories, but the team then bowed in five straight before coming up for air and taking two in a row which is where the team now stands. Last Sunday, Saskatchewan was given a gift by Winnipeg as the Blue Bombers made a questionable move or two late which allowed the Riders to capture a 25-24 road win thanks to a successful 40-yard field goal as time expired.
Montreal, which is now tied with Toronto atop the standings in the East Division at 6-4, tied a season-low in points as it was crushed by British Columbia on the road last Saturday, 43-10. The Alouettes scored 10 points in the first quarter at BC Place and then pretty much disappeared as they finished with a mere 223 yards of total offense.
Penalties were a major factor in the outing, so much so that they contributed to quarterback Anthony Calvillo's lowest passing total of the season as he completed only 16-of-26 for 152 yards and a score. The lackluster outing snapped a string of eight straight games in which the gunslinger had thrown for at least 300 yards.
Brandon Whitaker tried to give the visitors a lift on the ground with his 10 carries for 70 yards, but considering the huge deficit on the scoreboard the Als could not afford to waste time picking up a few yards here and there, especially with the league's all-time leading passer ready and willing to let fly on every snap.
As for the Roughriders, they were given a gift when Winnipeg decided to punt the ball away late in the fourth quarter when it was deep in Saskatchewan territory. Instead of trying for a field goal, or at the very least pinning the Riders deep in their own zone, Mike Renaud booted one into the end zone which gave the Bombers a two-point lead (24-22) with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
Backup quarterback Drew Willy, who stepped in for Darian Durant rather early when it became apparent that the starter was still not over his injury from the week prior, directed the offense down the field and scrambled late for a significant gain in order to put Sandro DeAngelis in line for a 40-yard field goal, which he promptly nailed as time expired.
DeAngelis made good on three of his four field goal attempts and Willy converted 17-of-23 pass attempts for 188 yards and a score, although he was picked off once and sacked five times. Hopefully Willy will get better protection the next time he steps in for Durant, which could possibly be this weekend depending on whether the hip flexor that has bothered him continues to do so.
Not only did Durant make an early exit, so did receiver Weston Dressler who, after reeling in four passes to give him 332 for his career as a Roughrider and move him into fourth place on the club's all-time list, took a seat on the bench because of an injury as well.
Running back Kory Sheets, who scored on a two-yard run in the third quarter, ran for just 32 yards on 12 attempts, but he did play a major role as a pass catcher with five receptions for an additional 73 yards and a score.
Sheets leads the league in yards from scrimmage, his dual-threat capability generating 1,074 yards overall. He is first in the league with eight rushing touchdowns and second overall in rushing yardage with 680, placing him ahead of Whitaker who is currently fourth on the list with 586 yards, but has just three majors on the ground.
Obviously the key to this game will be the play of the quarterbacks, whether or not the Riders even have Durant in uniform, and if Calvillo has any trouble bouncing back from one of his weakest efforts this season. The latter shouldn't be that much of a concern for the Als because Calvillo has always been the consummate pro, able to rebound from sub par efforts to put his best foot forward.
The top passer in the league yet again in 2012 with 3,130 yards, second in TD passes with 21, Calvillo has clashed with Saskatchewan a total of 16 times and has tossed 33 TDs against 13 interceptions. In the last six games versus the Riders, he has delivered 15 TDs and just three picks.
With respect to the all-time series, taking into account only regular-season matchups dating back to 1946, Montreal holds a 35-28-1 advantage over the Riders. However, it was Saskatchewan that won the most recent meeting between the squads in July of 2011 with a 27-24 final on the road.
The teams are set to meet once more during the regular season in Saskatchewan on Oct. 20.
Never one to fall into an extended funk, Calvillo is gearing up for this game to show that last week's effort was nothing more than a fluke. There is also incentive stemming from his last game against Saskatchewan when he completed just 7-of-14 passes for 91 yards and an interception, so that's all the motivation he needs to get Montreal back into the win column.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 30, Saskatchewan 23
09/12 12:05:59 ET