For the third time in five weeks, the B.C. Lions will square off against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. And while each team has a win in the previous two meetings, there will be more than season-series bragging rights on the line Saturday at Mosaic Stadium.
The 10-5 Roughriders want to secure a home playoff game and need a win over the 9-6 Lions to do it.
Riders quarterback Darian Durant is expecting "a dog fight."
"We know what's on the line," head coach Corey Chamblin said.
The Lions posted a dramatic 24-22 victory in Regina on Sept. 22 only to have the Roughriders return the favour in Vancouver on Oct. 4 with a convincing 31-17 decision. The Riders were minus running back Kory Sheets in the September contest, but the CFL's second-leading rusher had 80 yards and two TDs in leading Saskatchewan to its win earlier this month.
And while Saskatchewan's offence struggled in last weekend's 14-9 win over Edmonton — Durant threw for just 170 yards with two interceptions — Sheets ran for 106 yards and a TD on 24 carries.
"I know that the whole team feeds off my energy," said Sheets.
Durant emphasized the importance of execution, and also stressed the need to take an early lead. Ironically, Saskatchewan's offence has been notorious this season for its slow starts.
"We're still a work-in-progress," said Riders offensive guard Brendon LaBatte. "We've been on a slow-build all year."
Noting that the Lions' defence has size, speed and skill, he added: "It's going to start with being physical. We're going to look to be physical, try to grind them down."
The Lions have just three wins on the road this season and while one of them came in Regina, they will be dealing with a vocal crowd tomorrow.
"That's why they call it home-field advantage," said Chamblin. "The biggest advantage you have is the crowd."
B.C. quarterback Thomas DeMarco expects the fans to be on him all night.
"They're going to try to get in your head and do what they can as fans," he said. "They make it fun."
The Lions have lost their last two games and head coach Mike Benevides knows what they are up against on Saturday.
"It's a tough, tough football team to play against," he said. "This is going to be a physical, demanding game. You have to be prepared for everything they bring. Whoever makes the most plays and plays the best will go on to win."
The weather could also play a role as temperatures were expected to dip just below zero overnight, though the forecast for gametime Saturday was calling for 5 C and rain.
Durant isn't intimidated.
"I'm a cold-weather man," he said.
"I sweat a lot," he added. "If it's cold, I won't sweat."
But Chamblin said there are still a few players who aren't so sure about the chilly weather.
"There's still a couple of rookies, you can see it," he said.