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CFL Preview - British Columbia (10-4) at Hamilton (5-9)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, October 12, 7:30 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: With a spot in the 2012 postseason now secured, the Lions of British Columbia continue their quest for the best overall record in the league as they take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium on Friday night.

The Lions, the defending Grey Cup champions, already have 20 points through 14 games and hold a two-game advantage in the Western Division standings over both Calgary and Saskatchewan thanks in part to a 27-22 win over the Calgary Stampeders at home last weekend.

In that game Travis Lulay, one of only three quarterbacks to start every outing for his team so far this season, ran his consecutive games streak with at least one touchdown pass to 25 in a row as he converted 23-of-33 passes for 268 yards and two scores in the victory. Lulay continues to chase Sam Etcheverry who holds the CFL record with 34 straight games with a passing score while playing with Montreal between 1954-56. Lulay was able to advance his efforts despite having both Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce both on the injured list.

Nick Moore was one of nine players to catch a pass in the meeting for the Lions as he reeled in five balls for a game-high 83 yards and a touchdown. The other scoring catch was made by Shawn Gore who had just three receptions for a total of 21 yards. Running back Andrew Harris was responsible for a game-high 73 yards and a major of his own.

Meanwhile, the Tiger-Cats had trouble getting into gear in their latest outing, a 35-20 setback versus Edmonton on the road last Friday night. Not only did the team suffer a setback for the second time in the last three contests, they also lost defensive tackle Eddie Steele with a leg injury in the second quarter that required him to be taken off the field in an ambulance.

Quarterback Henry Burris converted 20-of-35 passes for 274 yards and two touchdowns, but he was sacked twice and threw a total of three interceptions which prevented the Ticats from battling back against an Edmonton squad that outscored them 18-0 in the final frame.

Running back Avon Cobourne not only led the team on the ground with 86 yards on 13 rushing attempts, he also caught a team-best six passes for another 55 yards, although he being guilty of one of the two lost fumbles for the team in the losing cause didn't help matters.

With the two fumbles by Cobourne and Burris, Hamilton now has 13 such giveaways on the campaign, tied for the most in the league with Winnipeg. Overall the Tiger-Cats have handed the ball over to the opposition a total of 37 times thus far and because the defense has just 22 takeaways, it means the team has the worst turnover margin in the league at minus-15.

Cobourne has tried to be a spark for Hamilton's offense this season, but his 6.3 yards per carry don't mean much when he has scored only once on 89 rushing attempts. Through his career in games against BC, Cobourne has averaged 6.4 yards per attempt on the ground, but again the scoring touches are few and far between with just four on 106 attempts over the years.

Burris, who has 12 passing TDs in his last five games versus the Lions, is first in the league in TD passes this season with 34 which means he needs just five more to match his career high set with Calgary back in 2008 when he threw for close to 5,100 yards. However, the signal-caller is also tops in the CFL after 14 games with 14 interceptions as well, but still he is carrying the best efficiency rating to this point at 104.9.

Because of the efforts of Burris, Hamilton remains first in the league in scoring with 30.1 ppg, but by the same token, his turnovers have contributed to the club giving up 31.7 ppg which is the most in the CFL over 14 games as well.

Luckily for Lulay, the Lions have been much more stingy when defending the end zone, permitting only 19.4 ppg at this stage, which is more than one point better than Saskatchewan which is second-best in the league.

British Columbia leads the all-time series with Hamilton, taking into account only regular-season dates going back to 1954, by a count of 47-32-3, thanks in part to a 39-36 triumph in the most recent meeting back in July. However, the Tiger-Cats have taken five of the last seven clashes overall in order to make it competitive.

Allowing more points than you've scored has never been a recipe for success in any sport and the Ticats are finding that out this season. Chances are, the trend will continue this week even though Hamilton is at home.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 37, Hamilton 30

10/10 10:49:09 ET

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