Week 13 of the Canadian Football League (CFL) will see the Saskatchewan Roughriders host the BC Lions in the first meeting between the West Division rivals this season. The Riders come in at 8-3-0, second in the division, while the Lions are a game back at 7-4-0. The Calgary Stampeders are 9-2-0 and lead the battle to claim the division title with seven games remaining in the regular season.
After starting the season 8-1-0, Saskatchewan has lost back-to-back games to Winnipeg (25-13) on the road and Toronto (31-29) at home, and will be trying to get back into the win column against BC. The Lions are coming off a big win last week against Montreal, 36-14, but have lost three straight road games by a combined 35 points and are going to be playing without No. 1 quarterback Travis Lulay, who will miss the next two games due to a shoulder injury. BC has not announced whether second-year QB Thomas DeMarco or the more experienced Buck Pierce will make the start.
The Roughriders will be missing a major offensive weapon as well with the absence of tailback Kory Sheets, a Purdue product that has rushed for 1,222 yards on 213 carries (5.7 YPC), including eight touchdowns, in his second season in the CFL. He has almost equaled his rookie season numbers, 229 attempts, 1,277 yards and 11 TDs, after 11 games.
The loss of Lulay, who is second in the league with 2,787 passing yards, will result in the Lions scoring less, and being more likely to turn the ball over. The loss of Sheets, the top rusher in the CFL, means that Rider QB Darian Durant will have to play a near-error free game, but he is a veteran that has been in this position before and has the ability to step up and play that kind of game.
Durant has a 61.5 % completion percentage with over 18,000 yards through the air, and is only five TDs short of 100 passing TDs in his CFL career. It should be pointed out that Durant was 1-1 for 14 yards in his first two seasons (2006, 2007), and did not become a starter until the 2009 season.
While at the University of North Carolina, Durant set the single-season freshman records for touchdown passes (17), completions (142), passing yards (1,843), and total offence (1,971).
If Durant protects the ball and the Saskatchewan D gets him a couple of extra opportunities, look for the Roughriders to walk off the field with their ninth win of the season, two games up on the Lions and no worse than one game behind Calgary.
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