September 15, 2023

Game Preview | WPG at HAM

Scene setter: 

The Blue Bombers make their first visit to Hamilton this season – there will be a second if they are back in the Grey Cup in November – and their first since a 48-31 loss to the Tiger-Cats in September of last year.

Winnipeg is 8-2 in its last 10 and has won five of its last six. The Ticats, meanwhile, have won two of their last three with last week’s 27-24 victory over Ottawa and a 30-13 decision over B.C. separated by a 41-28 loss to Toronto.

This is the CFL’s annual Hall of Fame Game, with five players and two builders – none with connections to the Blue Bombers – entering the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. That crew includes players Josh Bourke, John Bowman, Larry Crawford and Solomon Elimimian and Lloyd Fairbanks and builders Larry Smith and Jacques Dussault.

More info on the CFHOF class is here.

The Basics

Kickoff: Saturday, 3 p.m. CDT; Tim Hortons Field
TV: TSN 1/3
U.S. and international live streaming:
Radio: 680 CJOB
Last meeting: These two clubs met in Week 1 of this year, a 42-31 win by the Blue Bombers back on June 9th at IG Field.
PlayNow odds:  The Blue Bombers are favoured by 6.5 points. For more betting options on this game, click here.

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The QBs

  • Winnipeg will start Zach Collaros behind centre. He is 70-39 in his CFL career and 3-3 all-time vs. the Ticats.
  • Hamilton will start Taylor Powell at QB. This is just his seventh CFL start and the Ticats are 2-4 in games in which he takes the first snap. Veteran Bo Levi Mitchell started the first game of the year for Hamilton against Winnipeg, so this will mark the first time Powell has faced the Blue Bombers and vice-versa.

The Coaches

Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 91-61. O’Shea’s 90 wins as Blue Bombers head coach now ranks him second all-time in franchise history behind only Grant (102). O’Shea’s teams are 8-8 vs. Hamilton in the regular season.

Hamilton: Orlondo Steinauer is in his fifth year at the Ticats helm, and his clubs have a combined 36-26 record. Steinauer’s clubs are 3-3 in regular season games vs. the Blue Bombers.

Blue Bomber Roster Notes

  • The Blue Bombers have made two changes to their depth chart this week, bringing on defensive end Celestin Haba and defensive tackle Tanner Schmekel with end Jackson Jeffcoat and receiver Jeremy Murphy coming out of the lineup. Murphy has been moved to the six-game injured list. Jeffcoat practised on Wednesday before Thursday’s closed session, so it’s uncertain if he became injured, has taken ill or is out for personal reasons. Worth noting: Jeffcoat was placed on the one-game injured list, not the six-game list. An update will come later today from O’Shea at his media session upon the team’s arrival in Ontario.
  • Haba has dressed for six games this year, including two starts for Jeffcoat back in June, and has nine tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in those half dozen games.
  • Schmekel has dressed for three games this season but has not been in the lineup since Week 3.
  • Aside from Jeffcoat being on the one-game injured list and Murphy moved to the six-game list, the rest of the wounded includes WR/Kr Janarion Grant, LBs Shayne Gauthier and Jared Beeksma, Dime Alden Darby, Jr., DE Thiadric Hansen, FB Mile Miller and CB Desmond Lawrence – all on the six-game.

Blue Bomber Spotlight: Evan Holm, defensive back

A year ago, Holm was making his first CFL start in Hamilton a game in which the Blue Bombers were unexpectedly blow-torched in a 48-31 loss. So much has happened since then, including the North Dakota product not only establishing himself in the Blue Bombers secondary but also as one of the league’s rising defensive stars.

Scouting the Tiger-Cats

The Ticats remain a bit of an unfinished puzzle, having lost QBs Bo Levi Mitchell and Matthew Schlitz to injury earlier in the season before handing the keys to the offence to Powell, the rookie, at the most-important spot on the field.

Hamilton has won two of its last three, including a shocking 30-13 win in Vancouver against the B.C. Lions at the end of August. But three of their five wins have also come against Ottawa, now 3-9, and a fourth against the 3-10 Edmonton Elks.

Hamilton has some weapons on offence, with James Butler currently fourth in the CFL in rushing at 736 yards – trailing Winnipeg’s Brady Oliveira (1,144), Kevin Brown of Edmonton (829) and Toronto’s A.J. Ouellette (815).

Tim White is fifth in receiving yardage at 851 and is coming off a 180-yard/two TD effort in the win over Ottawa. That said, the Ticats rank 8th in offensive points at 19.3 and are also second-last in points allowed at 27.2.

“They’re well coached, they’ve got a pretty darn good lineup,” said O’Shea. “I know they’ve had some injuries that they’ve battled through, but they’re starting to come around. At the quarterback position, for sure, he’s playing very well. Their running game is good, their defence has always been good – no matter what the stats say.

“Again, they’re well coached. They’re a good football team so they’re going to play tough; at home they always do. We don’t take anybody lightly.”


More leftover nuggets from last week’s Banjo Bowl win over the Riders:

  • The Blue Bombers six TDs in the first half has occurred just eight times in CFL history since 1950 and just twice since 1994, the last time being by the B.C. Lions in 2002. What separates the Bombers’ effort last week is this: it marks the first time a club scored on all six of their first-half drives. (The CFL record is eight, set by Montreal in 1956 and Calgary in 1994, but they didn’t score on all their drives).
  • Collaros threw for five TDs in the first half, a first since 1994. Dating to 1950, that has occurred in the CFL just six times.


  • The Blue Bombers did not score an offensive TD in their win over Calgary on August 18th. Since then, the attack has TDs on 16 of its 41 possessions (39%) and has scored a TD or field goal on 54 % of its drives.
  • Hamilton has beaten the Blue Bombers in their last three meetings at Tim Hortons Field. Winnipeg’s last regular season win in Hamilton came on August 12, 2017, in a game in which Collaros started for the Ticats.
  • Ticat QB Taylor Powell had zero TDs against three interceptions in his first three starts. Since then that differential is 7:1.
  • Sergio Castillo is 29-of-31 in field goal attempts this year (93.5%) and now ranks fourth all-time in that department with a career mark of 86.9%.
  • Brady Oliveira’s 1,144 yards rushing has him on a pace for 1,584 yards – a total which would be the second highest by a Canadian in league history to Jon Cornish’s 1,813-yard season with Calgary in 2013.


“I don’t think we’ve looked ahead a game in 10 years. It’s just the way we focus and the way we talk about each week and what’s important in the next minute, what’s important in the next hour. We have pretty well laid the groundwork for that quite some time ago. I don’t think our players are going to deviate from that.

“The other thing is, in physical contact sport you better be paying attention with what’s going on right in front of you. Try as the media might to divert the attention of where it should be, it’s not going to work.”

– O’Shea, when asked about looking ahead to the upcoming bye week followed by games against Toronto and B.C.