PREVIEW: Saskatchewan Roughriders vs B.C. Lions
It's not quite the big ticket, but the Roughriders host the B.C. Lions Saturday evening at Mosaic with a lot on the line.
The Riders are looking for their fourth win in five tries, but it won't be easy as they take on the leagues best team. That being said, the Riders have proven they can hang with the Lions, beating them week three at Mosaic Stadium, and containing them for most of the game a few weeks ago in Vancouver. If the offense had shown up, it was a game they could have won.
It's a game that could be all about defense, as the Lions are the league's top defense, with Saskatchewan not too far behind in second place, but you'd never guess it based on the talk.
"We're quietly ranked high as a defense in this league," said head coach Corey Chamblin. "We're not looking for praise, we're looking to stop opponents.'
The main reason for the Riders success on defense so far this season has been...well...everyone. Chamblin said on Friday that there isn't really one defensive star on this team, and that they do it all by committee. This approach has certainly been noticed by the Lions. Quarterback Travis Lulay said if they're going to be successful, they have to beat everyone, not just one or two guys.
"They have good players, they're going to win some series, they're going to win some plays," said Lulay. "But you have to move on to the next play."
The Lions defense gets more headlines, for both good and bad reasons, but it's mostly deserved as they've been the best in the league since about Labour Day last season.
"Whenever you're playing against a good defense, the thing you don't want to do is turn the ball over and make it easier for them," said quarterback Darian Durant.
Durant did not have a good outing last time these teams met, but he is coming off a very strong game against the Calgary Stampeders. It's still unclear if Durant will be willing to take off an run more this week against the Lions.
"If opportunities present itself, I will," said Durant. "At the same time, I make sure we're moving the ball by any means necessary ."
The top defenses going toe to toe isn't the only interesting match up this week. The Lions Andrew Harris and the Riders Kory Sheets come into this game, number one and number two in yards from scrimmage.
"We just have to go out and execute ," said linebacker Tyron Brackenridge. "We just go to align right, and execute our plays."
While Harris hasn't been a huge factor against the Riders so far this season, he certainly can. This time around though the green and white have Joe Lobendahn on their side. Harris actually worked out with Lobendahn in the off season , he's looking forward to the challenge.
"He's just so strong, and tough," said Harris. "He has no fear about anything."
Should the Riders win, they will keep slim hopes of finishing first in the west alive. The game starts at 8p.m. You can watch it on TSN.