Calgary hopes to continue dominance of Winnipeg

Oct 29, 2014 - 3:03 PM Calgary, AB ( - The Calgary Stampeders try to make it 11 straight wins against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers when the two clubs get together at McMahon Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

With the West Division title already locked up, not to mention the best overall record for the 2014 regular season, the Stampeders perform in front of the hometown crowd for the last time before the playoffs. The squad has lost just two times in 16 opportunities, bowing to British Columbia and Montreal. Since the 31-15 setback versus the Alouettes, Calgary has rattled off four more victories, the latest of those being a 40-27 romp over Saskatchewan on Oct. 24.

Trailing by 12 entering the fourth quarter last Friday night, the Stamps mounted a huge comeback bid in front of the hometown crowd and eventually grabbed the double-digit victory over the visiting Roughriders.

Bo Levi Mitchell converted 21-of-31 passes for 231 yards and a TD, while backup signal caller Drew Tate scored on a one-yard run just before the half. With Jon Cornish out of action, Matt Walter took over and posted 69 yards and two TDs on 12 carries for the hosts.

While the Calgary defense did surrender close to 400 yards, Jamar Wall came away with one of two interceptions for the Stamps, returning his 50 yards for a major in the final frame.

While the Stamps have had an easy time of it this season, the same cannot be said for the Blue Bombers who have won only six of their 17 contests as they enter this, their season finale.

The last two months have been particularly brutal for Winnipeg, the one team in the West Division that will be sitting at home after this weekend's contest. The squad has dropped eight straight decisions since taking down Montreal in late August, the most recent defeat coming against British Columbia last Saturday, 28-23.

Winnipeg actually held a small lead at intermission and was ahead 17-13 heading into the fourth quarter, but the defense then allowed 15 points to the visitors, en route to the five-point loss. Quarterback Drew Willy completed 13 of his 25 pass attempts for 221 yards and a score, but not only was he picked off two times, he also suffered an unsightly 10 sacks.

In addition to Willy being taken down so many times behind the line of scrimmage, the Bombers also lost significant field position (104 yards) due to seven penalties. Granted, the team's list of mistakes was not as extensive as BC which committed 22 infractions for a loss of 155 yards, but they were still enough to keep the hosts off balance.

Running back Paris Cotton carried the ball 16 times for 131 yards and a score for Winnipeg as well. The back has scored a total of three touchdowns in the last two games, and is now the go-to ball carrier after the program released Nic Grigsby (744 yards, eight TDs in 14 games for the Bombers) per the back's request just weeks ago.

While Cotton is the main focus coming out of the backfield for Winnipeg, it will be Willy who handles that passing responsibilities this time around, barring some unforeseen issue. Taking the majority of the snaps for the Bombers in 2014, Willy has thrown for 3,747 yards and 16 TDs, but he has also been picked off 14 times, although four INTs in the season opener against Toronto dug him a considerable hole from which he has been trying to dig his way out of ever since.

Willy may be second in the league in passing yards, but clearly the more dominant passer in this matchup is again Mitchell who has the best efficiency rating of any regular starter in the league at 97.2, thanks to his 20 TDs and only eight INTs.

As a unit, Calgary is tops in the league in scoring (29.1 ppg), with a good portion of that number stemming from a league-high 24 rushing touchdowns, thanks in part to Jon Cornish who leads the CFL with 977 yards and five TDs on the ground thus far, even though he has missed significant time due to injury.

Working right into the hands of Calgary will be a Winnipeg defense which at this stage is the weakest in the league, allowing 27.5 ppg.

In terms of the all-time series between the squads, one that takes into account only regular-season meetings dating back to 1945, Calgary is ahead by a count of 103-89 following a 33-23 victory in Winnipeg just a few weeks ago.

During that Week 17 matchup, Calgary dropped 15 points in the first quarter and led 16-6 at the break, and from then on the teams played even. The Stamps had Cornish running on all cylinders that game as he posted 160 yards and a score on 21 carries, while Mitchell converted 18-of-28 passes for another 258 yards and two touchdowns, offsetting his two interceptions.

The Bombers utilized two quarterbacks in that contest, Brian Brohm and Robert Marve, the former leaving early due to a thumb injury. The pair combined to connect on 19-of-33 throws for 258 yards, but failed to put the ball in the end zone. Instead, it was Cotton who did the honors (twice) as he ran for 108 yards on 14 attempts.

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