Riders vs. B.C Lions

This is the last day for the Rider-themed exhibition Green is the Colour: The Art of Rider Pride at the Dunlop Art Gallery (review here).

Tomorrow morning, preparators will start taking the work down to make way for the next exhibition — a two artist show by Jeannie Mah and Jack Anderson which explores Regina through the lens of New Wave French cinema.

Will today also mark the end of the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ 2010 CFL season? A few months ago, that prospect would have been laughable. Their opponent in today’s West semi-final, the B.C. Lions, got off to a horrid start, and at one point sported a 1-7 record before winning seven of their last ten games and grabbing third place when the Edmonton Eskimos fell to the Riders 31-23 on the last weekend of the season.

With that victory, the Riders halted a four game losing streak — their worst since the height of the Shivers/Barrett reign of mediocrity in 2005. Prior to that slide, the Riders had looked like legit contenders to repeat as CFL West champion and host the CFL West Final on Nov. 21. That game, of course, will now be played in Calgary. And to take the field against the Stampeders, the Riders will first have to vanquish the Lions.

Twice in recent memory the Riders have hosted the B.C. in the west semi-final. Both times (1988 and 2008) the Leos annihilated them. Despite the Lions’ recent surge, it’s hard to see that happening again this year. If the Riders can stay away from turnovers, and avoid major gaffes on special teams, they should prevail. But those are both big “ifs” as special teams in particular have been a huge problem for the Riders all year. And in Yonus Davis, the Lions have an explosive return man who broke the Oct. 31 game in Vancouver open with a punt return touchdown. Another edge the Lions enjoy is at placekicker, where Paul McCallum has been lights out, while the Riders head into the game without regular kicker Luca Congi. 

Also worrisome is the Riders’ porous run defence. Even in defeat last week, Esk running back Daniel Porter ran for 153 yards on 19 carries. If Jamal Robinson (and scrambling QB Travis Lulay) enjoy similar success today, that would give the Lions a big ball control edge — which would be especially important should weather conditions hinder the Riders’ quick-strike offence. Still, now that Rider QB Darian Durant has recovered from an ankle injury that definitely limited his mobility during the losing streak, the Green & White do possess a formidable offence that the Lions will be hardpressed to stop.

Pre-game on TSN starts at 3 p.m.  Kick-off at Mosaic Stadium is at 3:30 p.m.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.

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