Game Preview | Labour Day Classic

WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS (3-1) at SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS (3-0) 

THE 4-1-1

Kickoff: Today, 5 p.m. CT, Mosaic Stadium, Regina.
TV: TSN 1/3, ESPNEWS, Yare
Radio: 680 CJOB; Sirius XM (Canada Talks, channel 167)
BetRegal.ca odds: Roughriders by 5.5 points.
Streaks: Winnipeg: 1W. Saskatchewan: 3W. The Bombers are 3-1 after edging the Calgary Stampeders 18-16 last Sunday at IG Field. The Riders are 3-0 and are coming off a bye week. With the late start to the 2021 season Saskatchewan is entering the Labour Day Classic unbeaten for the first time since 1951.
Home/Road: The Bombers are 0-1 on the road this season, after falling 30-23 in Toronto on August 21. Saskatchewan has opened their season with three games at home, all wins. The Riders have won 14 of their last 15 regular-season games at Mosaic.
Head to head: The Riders took two of three regular season games against the Bombers in 2019, before falling in the biggest matchup of the year – the 2019 West Final.
Labour Day Classic: The numbers are gruesome for Winnipeg, as they have lost 14 of their last 15 LDC games, the lone exception a 28-25 win in 2016. Saskatchewan holds a 37-19 record on Labour Day vs. the Bombers dating back to 1949.

The QBs

  • The Bombers will start veteran Zach Collaros. He is 38-33 in his career starts and 7-1 as a Bomber. He is 4-3 in his career against Saskatchewan.
  • The Riders counter with Cody Fajardo. The West Division’s Most Outstanding Player in 2019, he is 15-4 as a starter and 2-1 in career regular-seson games against Winnipeg.

The Coaches

Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea: 59-53; vs. Sask.: 8-9

Saskatchewan: Craig Dickenson: 16-5; vs. Wpg.: 2-1

Blue Roster Shuffle

The Bombers have made two roster changes from Week 4. Coming aboard are SB Nic Demski and DT Ezekiel Rose. Off are SB Kelvin McKnight and LB Nakas Onyeka.

Rose, the former West Virginia star who also played for East Mississippi Community College when it was featured on Netflix’s Last Chance U, will make his CFL debut on Sunday.

Demski, meanwhile, missed the last two games with a hip injury. “I just want to come out here and play good football for the team, doing what I do, being versatile and just helping out in any way,” said Demski earlier this week. “I just want to go out there, work hard, have fun, hit some people and score touchdowns.”

Milestone Watch

Bombers running back Andrew Harris needs 95 yards to pass Joffrey Reynolds (9,213) to move into seventh place on the CFL’s all-time rushing list.

Ahead of him on that list: Mike Pringle (16,425), George Reed (16,116), Damon Allen (11,920), Johnny Bright (10,909), Charles Roberts (10,285), Kelvin Anderson (9,230) and Reynolds.

3 Bombers to Watch

#10 Nic Demski, SB:  Missed the last two games after piling up 13 receptions for 138 yards and a touchdown in his first two. He’s not just a versatile player with big-play potential, he’s the kind of receiver who can make clutch catches simply to keep the chains moving.

#37 Brandon Alexander, S: Patrols the middle of the Bombers made-over secondary, a group that features some fresh faces who continue to grow with each game but will be tested by Fajardo & Co.

#89 Kenny Lawler, WR: He’s put the ball on the ground three-four times in the last two games and still has superb numbers with a league-leading 25 receptions for 323 yards and two touchdowns. The drop total will drop and all those other numbers will continue to grow.

X Factor

#5 Willie Jefferson, DE: We could mention Jefferson as our ‘X Factor’ every week, given the reigning CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player can wreck an offensive game plan like no other in the league. Jefferson’s numbers through four games –three tackles, one sack, an interception, a forced fumble and three pass knockdowns – really don’t do justice to his impact.

Notable

Zach Collaros will start Sunday’s LDC for the first time as a Bomber. He’s now started for both Toronto and Hamilton in their annual Labour Day matchup and will start for both teams in the Winnipeg-Saskatchewan showdown. That makes him the second QB – along with Kevin Glenn (Wpg, Sask, Cal and Ham) to start for four different clubs in a Labour Day game.

One more on Collaros: in his days as an Argo, Ticat and Rider he has a 4-0 LDC record with 10 TDs against just two picks in those games.

Quotable

“This will be different for each person. Maybe when you get there and you look in the crowd and you see a sea of green and a little section of blue cheering their hearts out, maybe a couple of guys will get emotional.

“I know this is a special game. We try to treat every game like it’s the same but, obviously, when you’re playing and there’s 30,000-plus people there you feel it a bit more. There’s no better feeling, and I’m sure a few guys have said this, than to quiet a crowd of 30,000 people. Especially with what we’ve all gone through I think Labour Day is a big weekend, not just for us but the whole CFL.” – Bombers defensive tackle Jake Thomas.

FYI:

  • Mike Miller leads all CFL players in special-teams tackles with nine. The CFL’s all-time leader in that department is followed by teammate Thiadric Hansen, who is second in the league with six. The CFL’s top 10 special-teams tacklers also features Nick Hallett and Brandon Alexander, both of whom have five, while Shayne Gauthier is just behind with four.
  • Sunday will mark the first time in six years the Riders will start the same quarterback as the previous edition. Fajardo also started in 2019 and was preceded by Collaros (2018), Kevin Glenn (2017), Darian Durant (2016) and Brett Smith (2015)
  • Last Sunday night’s Calgary at Winnipeg game averaged 673,000 viewers on TSN, the highest number of viewers to watch a Bombers-Stamps game since 2013.

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