August 2, 2023

Game Preview | BC vs WPG

Scene setter:

It’s a tantalizing early-season battle between the two best teams in the West Division as the Blue Bombers host a Lions squad that punted them all over the park in a 30-6 decision back in June.

Winnipeg is chasing the win to prevent the Lions from moving four points ahead in the standings and clinching the season series. These two clubs do meet again in Vancouver in October, but without a victory Thursday the Blue Bombers will have already dropped two against their division rivals.

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The Basics

Kickoff: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. CDT, IG Field, Winnipeg
TV: TSN; CBS Sports Network;
U.S. and International: live streaming
Radio: 680 CJOB
Last meeting: B.C. 30 Winnipeg 6 back on June 22nd at IG Field
PlayNow odds: The Blue Bombers are favoured by 5.5 points. For more betting options, click here.
Take note: The late Bud Grant will be honoured before the game with some of his family present at IG Field. No coach has won more games in Blue Bombers history than Grant – 102 – or Grey Cup championships, with four. Attending the game will be Bud’s son Mike, as well as two daughters in Kathy and Laurie. Also of importance, Thursday’s game is the annual Purolator Tackle Hunger game.

The QBs

  • Winnipeg lines up Zach Collaros behind centre. He is 66-38 in his career and a stellar 38-7 in his games as a starter in Winnipeg, including playoffs and two Grey Cup victories. Collaros is 9-3 all-time in games against B.C.
  • B.C. starts Dane Evans at QB as Vernon Adams, Jr. needs another week to recover from a knee injury. Evans is 18-12 as a starter in the CFL – and now 1-0 with B.C. after joining them last year – and 2-1 in regular-season starts vs. the Blue Bombers.

The Coaches

Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 87-60. O’Shea’s 87 wins as a Blue Bombers head coach now ranks him second all-time in franchise history behind only Grant (102).
B.C.: Rick Campbell is now in his third year with the Lions. He is now 66-78-2 as a head coach, including his days with Ottawa (2014-19).

Blue Bomber Roster Notes

  • – The Blue Bombers have made three changes to the roster this week, adding linebacker Kyrie Wilson, cornerback Winston Rose and fullback Konner Burtenshaw.
  • Off are DB Jamal Parker, CB Abu Daramy-Swaray and LB Jared Beeksma.
  • Parker has been moved to the one-game injured list; Beeksma to the six-game list where he joins LB Malik Clements, LB Shayne Gauthier, WR/KR Janarion Grant, DE Celestin Haba and Thiadric Hansen, DB Desmond Lawrence and FB Mike Miller.
  • This will be Wilson’s first action since injuring his Achilles in a win over the Argonauts in Toronto on July 4th of last season. It will also be Rose’s first game of the year.
  • K Sergio Castillo, LB Brian Cole, WR Greg McCrae and FB Damian Jackson are the Designated Americans.

Blue Bomber Spotlight: Nic Demski, SB

The Blue Bombers versatile Canadian entered the bye week after his best game of the season, pulling in four passes for 115 yards and a TD and carrying the ball twice for six yards in the win over Edmonton.

“We owe it to ourselves to come out here and play good football,” said Demski. “We have the right mindset right now. Everybody knows the task at hand, so we’ve got to come out here and kinda stop talking about it and do it.”

Scouting the Lions

The Lions are coming off a 27-0 spanking of the Elks on the weekend – the second time they’ve blanked Edmonton THIS SEASON. B.C.’s defence has gone 12 full quarters without allowing a touchdown and has surrendered just five scores all year.

The Lions rank first in points allowed at just 13.4 per game (Winnipeg is third at 21.0) and have held their opponents to under 10 points four times in seven games. Said Blue Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea this week of the Lions defence:

“They’re playing 12-man football on defence. They’re all getting to the ball in a hurry, and it seems like they’ve got their eyes right. They’re out there running around having a good time.”

Key to the Lions is the pressure they get up front – B.C. is tied with Winnipeg with 25 sacks, with seven coming against the Blue Bombers in their June win. Three of those takedowns that night came from Mathieu Betts, who leads the CFL with 10 sacks.

“He’s just a great athlete,” said Blue Bombers left tackle Stanley Bryant. “He gets off the ball real fast; he knows how to make plays and he’s always getting to the quarterback. He’s always running down the field, running down running backs 15-20 yards down the field. He’s a great effort guy who does a lot for their defence and he uplifts their defence.

“Their defence has been together now two-three years, so they’ve been bonded together. They’re playing great and RP (defensive coordinator Ryan Phillips) and John Bowman (defensive line coach) are also doing a great job.”

Dane Evans was solid in his first start for the Lions last week, completing 25-of-32 passes for 330 yards. He also connected on his first eight pass attempts of the game.


The Blue Bombers are entering a stretch that will see them face West Division opponents in five of their next six games – Thursday vs. the Lions then followed by trips to Edmonton (August 10) and Calgary (August 18). After Montreal pays a visit (August 24) the club then has its annual Labour Day Classic/Banjo Bowl doubleheader with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on September 3rd and 9th.


The Blue Bombers managed just six points on two field goals in their 30-6 loss to the Lions in June. In four games against B.C. last year – including the West Final win – Winnipeg averaged 31.75 points per game.