The B.C. Lions have had time to think about this one.
B.C. (12-6) hosts Calgary (6-12) in the West Division semifinal Saturday, with the winner advancing to the conference final against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (14-4). The playoff matchup comes after the Stampeders earned a surprising 41-16 road victory over the Lions on Oct. 20.
That victory, coupled with Toronto’s 29-26 decision over Saskatchewan the following day, earned the Stampeders a CFL playoff berth for an 18th straight year.
The key to Calgary’s win was its running game. The Stampeders ran for 213 yards on 31 attempts in the contest, which was the Lions’ last at B.C. Place Stadium as they had a bye last week.
Logan Peyton led the way for Calgary with 105 yards and a TD on eight carries while Ka’Deem Carey ran for 88 yards on 15 carries. Quarterback Jake Maier only had to throw 21 times, completing 10 for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
B.C. still won the season series 2-1 en route to finishing second in the West Division and securing a home playoff game. But the Lions’ run defence will have to be much better Saturday for the club to advance to the conference final.
B.C. also didn’t help itself with 10 penalties for 117 yards against Calgary. Quarterbacks Vernon Adams Jr. and Dane Evans combined for four interceptions while the Stampeders registered four sacks.
Stopping the run, though, has been a problem of late for B.C. Its last three opponents have rushed for over 100 yards, with the Lions having allowed an average of 147 yards on the ground over that span.
Maier hasn’t thrown for more than 170 yards this season against B.C. By comparison CFL passing leader Adams Jr. has passed for 300 or more yards in two of the contests.
B.C.’s Mathieu Betts, whose 18 sacks this season is the most ever by a Canadian player, had two in the three games versus Calgary.
The Lions were 8-4 within the West Division this season and 6-3 at home. Calgary sported a 4-7 record against conference rivals and were 3-6 away from McMahon Stadium.
B.C. was ranked third in offensive points (26.1 per game) ahead of fourth-place Calgary (21.6). But if the Stampeders can effectively run the ball again, they’ll keep the Lions’ potent offence off the field.
The good news for the Lions is they’ve had time to rest and prepare. And remember.
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