CFL Preview - Toronto (7-4) at Calgary (9-2)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 21, 7:30 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: The top teams in their respective divisions get together on Saturday night, as the Calgary Stampeders host the Toronto Argonauts at McMahon Stadium.
Calgary had been chasing Saskatchewan in the Western Division for most of the campaign, but last Friday night the Stampeders rustled up their fourth straight win and the eighth in the last nine outings with a 26-22 triumph over a pesky Hamilton squad at home. With the victory Calgary improved to a league- best 9-2 on the season, and moved two points ahead of the Roughriders in the standings.
Trailing by nine points in the third quarter, the Stamps turned up the pressure against Hamilton on both sides of the ball, ripping off 13 unanswered points in order to claim the win. The deciding score came on a 15-yard pass from Bo Levi Mitchell to Marquay McDaniel with just over a minute remaining in regulation.
Mitchell finished the night 20-of-30 for 257 yards and two touchdowns, was sacked twice and intercepted two times by the Tiger-Cats. Maurice Price caught five balls for 108 yards, one of those going 80 yards for a score, while Jon Cornish picked up a game-high 72 yards rushing on 13 attempts for the hosts.
While he didn't exactly steal the spotlight from the regulars, Calgary punter Rob Maver did attract some attention as he averaged 48.8 yards on five kicks, earning CFL Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
As for the Argonauts, they needed a strong fourth quarter in order to surpass the Roughriders and hold on for a 31-29 victory on the road, helping out Calgary in the process. Quarterback Zach Collaros not only threw for 225 yards and a score, he also ran in for a one-yard major for the visitors.
Running back Chad Kackert made his first appearance since being injured, but he lasted only a few plays before heading back to the sidelines. In his place, Toronto took advantage of Jerious Norwood who carried the ball 12 times for 73 yards and a score.
Saskatchewan, which was plagued by a staggering 16 penalties for a loss of 163 yards on the night, had a chance to tie the game in the waning moments, but during a two-point conversion attempt quarterback Darian Durant was swarmed under and never got off a pass.
With regular starter Ricky Ray out of action with an injury, Collaros has brought some stability to the Toronto offense with his 68.2 percent accuracy and eight aerial touchdowns. More importantly, the signal caller has thrown just four interceptions in 120 attempts, minimizing his mistakes in order to push the Argos to the top of the standings.
But as good as Collaros has been, not having Chad Owens at his disposal could pose a problem. Owens, dealing with a concussion, is doubtful for this weekend's outing as well, which means Toronto will again be missing one of the most electrifying performers in the game.
Kackert may not be back on the shelf officially, but one has to wonder if he is ready to try and take on more of the load for the Argos with Owens missing in the lineup. Norwood filled in nicely last week for Kackert and Andre Durie (60 catches, 669 yards) can stretch the field for Collaros, so it might be better to rest the players who are not 100 percent and get them ready for the postseason instead.
For the time being, Mitchell appears to be the go-to passer for the Stamps, particularly since he has three more touchdown tosses (10) than Kevin Glenn on 29 fewer completions. Mitchell has completed 70.3 percent of his passes and it has been only in the last two games that opponents have caught on to him and logged three interceptions.
McDaniel may lead the team in receptions (46) and yardage (556), but it is Price who has one more receiving touchdown (five) on nine fewer catches. Both receivers will again have to be at the top of their game in order to get over on the Toronto pass defense.
Helping to stretch the field will be Cornish, the only active 1,000-yard rusher in the league, tied with Saskatchewan's Kory Sheets for the most rushing TDs with eight.
These teams faced off against each other last month in Toronto, with the Stampeders coming away with a 35-14 victory. In that meeting the Argos, who had won five in a row in the series, failed to score in the second half as Collaros took over at quarterback and converted 16-of-26 passes for 221 yards, was sacked four times and intercepted once.
Glenn took care of the action for Calgary as he turned his 14 completed passes into 228 yards and two majors, while Rene Paredes accounted for another 13 points for the visitors.
With the win, Calgary moved ahead in the all-time series by one game, 42-41-1, taking into consideration only regular-season matchups dating back to 1961.
Calgary, which is still undefeated at home after five games, is also a perfect 5-0 versus East Division foes but you figure those streaks will have to end at some point. However, with so many key pieces missing for the Argonauts right now, it would be difficult to pick them for a win on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Calgary 31, Toronto 24
09/18 11:05:25 ET