The Calgary Stampeders begin their quest for their fourth consecutive Grey Cup appearance when they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West Division semifinal Sunday. The Stampeders missed out on a chance to win their fourth straight division title following a 29-28 loss to the Blue Bombers on Oct. 25, but earned home field advantage for the semifinal by taking down the BC Lions 21-16, and hope to make their eighth consecutive appearance in the Western final.
"Our team has a lot of fight and I think we're hungry but we're not playing at a championship level yet," Calgary coach Dave Dickenson admitted to reporters. "I'm confident in the guys in the room if we can get there ... and if we can get a win we'll see how long we can take this thing." Winnipeg looks to get over the disappointment of missing out on a home playoff game after going 2-4 down the stretch. The Blue Bombers, who needed Calgary to lose in its regular-season finale in order to finish in second place, won the season series with the Stampeders, but have dropped six of their last seven games on the road and face the daunting task of winning three straight away games if they hope to lift their first Grey Cup since 1990. "We had the season we had and there were a few games we'd like to have back," Winnipeg coach Mike O'Shea told reporters. "We're going on the road for three and that's the bottom line."
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ABOUT THE BLUE BOMBERS (11-7): Zach Collaros completed 22-of-28 passes for 221 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his Winnipeg debut against Calgary and is set to get the starting nod over a banged-up Chris Streveler, who will see some snaps in short-yardage situations. Andrew Harris gained 64 yards against the Stampeders to become the ninth player in CFL history to surpass 9,000 yards on the ground en route to winning his third straight rushing title (1,380). Centre Michael Couture will likely be sidelined for another week after missing practice Thursday, with Cody Speller set to replace him.
ABOUT THE STAMPEDERS (12-6): Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 283 yards and a touchdown in the win against BC to extend his streak of games with at least one TD pass to 17 (playoffs included). Hergy Mayala continued his late-season surge as he hauled in five passes for 103 yards and a score to give him five TD catches in his last four games while Reggie Begelton finished with six receptions to surpass 100 for the first time in his career with 102. Linebacker Cory Greenwood, who led the CFL in tackles before going on the six-game injured list with a shoulder issue, returned to practice and could step into the starting lineup.
1. The Blue Bombers have dropped 17 of their last 19 meetings in Calgary (playoffs included).2. Mitchell has thrown 14 touchdowns compared to one interception in his last five games against Winnipeg.
3. The winner will travel to Regina to face the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Nov. 17 in the West Division final.