Alouettes' turn to try and hand Blue Bombers their first loss of the season

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It's now up to Trevor Harris and the Montreal Alouettes to try and accomplish something no other CFL team has so far this season.

Montreal (2-5) hosts Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg (8-0) on Thursday to open a home-and-home series. The Bombers remain the CFL's only unbeaten squad.

Winnipeg is coming off a 35-28 road win over Calgary on Saturday night. The victory was not only the Bombers' second over the Stampeders this season but their first at McMahon Stadium since November 2017.

Winnipeg starter Zach Collaros threw for 270 yards and four TDs touchdowns. The CFL's outstanding player last season is the league's passing leader (1,994 yards) and stands second in touchdown passes (15) with just five interceptions.

But as impressive was the emergence of Winnipeg's ground game, which accounted for 160 yards on 22 carries (7.3-yard average). Brady Oliveira ran 15 times for a game-high 110 yards in the contest.

Calgary's rushing game was solid against Winnipeg's stout defence, accounting for 139 yards on 24 carries (5.8-yard average). Ka'Deem Carey had 92 yards on 14 carries (6.6-yard average) and scored two touchdowns.

Now, if Als running back William Stanback was healthy, Calgary's rushing success against Winnipeg would certainly provide food for thought. But Stanback remains on the injured list and without him Montreal's ground attack stands sixth in the CFL (90 yards per game).

Montreal had 90 yards rushing in last week's 24-17 road loss to Hamilton. Harris had the Alouettes poised to at the very least force overtime when he marched the offence to the Tiger-Cats 21-yard line in the dying seconds.

But following Harris's 17-yard rush, the CFL's neutral medical spotter removed Harris from the game. Backup Dominique Davis came in for the last play and was intercepted by Kameron Kelly, thus preserving Hamilton's victory.

Harris was limited in practice Sunday with a back injury but was a full participant Monday and Tuesday.

Despite last week's loss, Montreal is tied for second in the East with Hamilton (2-5). The Alouettes are 1-2 under interim coach/GM Danny Maciocia, but that's of no concern to owner Gary Stern, who took to social media this week to say his team will indeed defeat the Bombers.

It has certainly been a grind thus far for Winnipeg, which has yet to have a bye week. And the Bombers are on the road for a third straight week.

But Winnipeg has shown tremendous resilience and a knack for finding ways to win, even when not at its best. The same can't be said about Montreal, though.

Pick: Winnipeg

Calgary Stampeders versus Ottawa Redblacks (Friday night)

At Ottawa, the Redblacks (1-6) are coming off their first win of the season, a 23-13 decision in Toronto. Caleb Evans finished 24-of-29 passing for 286 yards and two TDs while Jaelon Acklin had seven catches for 144 yards and a touchdown. However, the squad is 0-4 versus the West Division. Last week's loss dropped Calgary (4-2) to third in its division and Carey (hamstring) didn't practise Monday or Tuesday. Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 219 yards against Winnipeg but has surrendered just three interceptions this season.

Pick: Calgary

Hamilton Tiger-Cats versus Toronto Argonauts (Saturday night)

At Toronto, the bitter rivals not only open a home-and-home series but a stretch that will see them play four times over a five-week span. And given Hamilton (2-5) is just two points behind the front-running Argos (3-3) in the East, it will be an important stretch for both. The Ticats rotated starter Dane Evans and backup Matt Shiltz against Montreal, something the home team must be aware of as it looks to shake off last week's disappointing loss to Ottawa.

Pick: Toronto.

Edmonton Elks versus B.C. Lions (Saturday night)

At Vancouver, veteran receiver Bryan Burnham (ribs) was a full participant Tuesday at practice for the Lions (5-1). That's bad news for opposing defences given the Lions rolled up 433 offensive yards in last week's 32-17 win over Saskatchewan. Quarterback Nathan Rourke threw for 336 yards and two TDs while rushing for another. Edmonton (2-5) will be rested coming in off the bye and eager to avenge its season-opening 59-15 loss at B.C. Place Stadium. The Elks have shown signs of improvement lately but …

Pick: B.C.

Last week: 2-2.

CP's overall record: 25-6.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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