SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS (3-1) at WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS (4-1)
Kickoff: Today, 3 p.m. CT, IG Field.
TV: TSN, ESPN+, Yare
Radio: 680 CJOB; Sirius XM (Canada Talks, channel 167).
BetRegal.ca odds: Blue Bombers by 1 point.
Streaks: Winnipeg: 2W. Saskatchewan: 1L.
Home/Road: The Bombers are 3-0 at home this season with wins over Hamilton, Toronto and Calgary. Saskatchewan opened their season with four straight games at home. This will mark the first Riders road game since a 27-24 win in Edmonton back on October 26, 2019.
Head to head: The Bombers won last week’s Labour Day Classic 23-8 and, including the 2019 West Final, have taken three straight from their arch-rivals.
The Banjo Bowl:
This is the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl, with the Bombers holding a 9-7 overall edge. The Bombers have also won four of the last five Banjo Bowl meetings, including 35-10 in 2019 when Chris Streveler threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more.
“We have to allow ourselves to sit back for a minute or two and really take in the crowd,” said Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea. “It’s pretty impressive. I love seeing a full house, every player does.
“… So, I will take the time to take a step back for second and appreciate the crowd and what they bring for us. I imagine all our players will do the same at some point, too. It’s not lost on our players how important our fans are to us.”
- The Bombers will start veteran Zach Collaros. He is 39-33 in his career starts and 8-1 as a Bomber. He is now 5-3 in his career against Saskatchewan after last week’s Labour Day Classic victory.
- The Riders counter with Cody Fajardo. The West Division’s Most Outstanding Player in 2019, he is 15-5 as a starter and 2-2 in career regular-season games against Winnipeg.
Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea: 60-53; vs. Sask.: 9-9
Saskatchewan: Craig Dickenson: 16-6; vs. Wpg.: 2-2
Blue Roster Shuffle
The Bombers have made two roster changes from Week 5. Coming aboard are LB Jontrell Rocquemore and DE Nick Dheilly.
Off are DB Noah Hallett and DT Ezekiel Rose. This will be Dheilly’s first game as a pro. A fifth-round draft pick by the Bombers in 2020, he played his college ball at the University of Saskatchewan and is a Regina product.
Three milestones to keep an eye on, all related to Andrew Harris:
- Harris needs 127 yards to move past Kelvin Anderson into sixth spot on the CFL’s all-time rushing list. He is at 9,214 career yards while Anderson is at 9,230. Also ahead on that list are: Mike Pringle (16,425), George Reed (16,116), Damon Allen (11,920), Johnny Bright (10,909) and Charles Roberts (10,285).
- Harris needs 81 yards from scrimmage – passing or receiving – to move past Darren Flutie into sixth spot on the CFL’s all-time list. He is at 14,353 in his career, Flutie is at 14,433. Ranking first to fifth on that list are: Mike Pringle (20,235), George Reed (18,888), Geroy Simon (16,546), Milt Stegall (15,209) and Allen Pitts (14,886).
- And Harris needs just 89 yards to move past Dick Shatto into 11th place on the CFL’s all-time yards from scrimmage list – yards rushing, receiving and on kick returns. Harris is at 15,629 in his career, Shatto finished at 15,717. Owning the No. 10 spot on that list is Milt Stegall at 16,105. Harris now has 176 yards rushing this year after piling up 95 in last week’s Labour Day Classic.
“I felt like myself a lot more in the last game, definitely from the first game,” Harris said Friday. “I knew I was going to get better as the season went on and I got more comfortable and got more reps. Without having really any training camp at all – the first two games were really my training camp – so hopefully everything will be back to normal or status quo from what I’m used to and whatever my new normal is as far as having that year off and being a year older.
“The biggest thing for me is just getting back to my normal is and playing my own style of football play in, play out.”
3 Bombers to Watch
#45 DeAundre Alford, CB: Deatrick Nichols is getting a lot of attention early this season, and with good reason, but Alford is looking more and more comfy in the Bombers secondary.
#13 Marc Liegghio, K: He’s hit on five of his seven field goal attempts – including a game winner against Calgary – but there is also a new kicker in town in Ali Mourtada.
#6 Charles Nelson, KR/WR: Ranks sixth in the CFL in punt return average (8.1 yards) and has a 32-yard return, but there is room for improvement.
#4 Adam Bighill, LB: Shades of ’18 for the veteran middle linebacker who three years ago was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player. Has 30 tackles, second to Ottawa’s Avery Williams (32), a fumble recovery and two tackles for a loss.
The Riders are making a handful of changes from their roster a week ago. Coming back is dominant DT Micah Johnson, but Saskatchewan’s secondary will be missing Ed Gainey and Louchiez Purifoy and moving Nick Marshall from corner to halfback.
Also out are WR Jordan Williams-Lambert and defensive end A.C. Leonard, who was suspended Friday by the CFL for two games for failure ‘to provide a sample for drug testing as outlined in the joint CFL-CFLPA drug policy.’
“No matter who’s out there we’re going to have to play a great football game to win,” said Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros. “They’re a great team, very physical and a disciplined group, too.”
“Any time I come from a team and I get an opportunity to play against that same team – especially with players and staff over there that were there when I was – I want to show them what they let go, and show them the reason why they shouldn’t have let me go.
“It is what it is with Saskatchewan. I have good friends over there still, teammates, staff… but when it comes to Labour Day/Banjo Bowl, I hate ‘em.” – Bombers defensive end Willie Jefferson on playing one of his old squads, the Riders.
- The Bombers have allowed only three fourth-quarter points all season – a field goal vs. Calgary in an 18-16 win in Week 4.
- The Bombers can match their best start since 1960 with a win to reach 5-1 – as they were in 2019 and several other years.
- This from Rob Vanstone of The Regina Leader-Post: Saskatchewan has only four touchdowns over its past seven meetings with Winnipeg, playoffs included. Half of those were scored by wideout Shaq Evans who is recovering from a broken foot.
- Mike Miller now has 13 special teams tackles in 5 games and needs just 2 to reach 200 for his career.