Season series winner, first place in the CFL’s Western Division and bragging rights.
That’s what is at stake as the Lions (11-4) host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-4) Friday night in what B.C. has dubbed the ‘Gravy Bowl.’
“Winnipeg’s a great team. We’re a great team too. We got a lot of great dudes … nobody’s getting complacent,” said quarterback Vernon Adams Jr.
“We want this win. We want this win at home to win the series.”
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B.C. secured a home playoff game after beating the Saskatchewan Roughriders 33-26 last week.
The Lions have been excellent at home, going 6-1 through the season and securing blowout victories.
But Adams said he and his teammates are respectful of Winnipeg and its high-flying offence.
Winnipeg’s Brady Oliveira is the CFL’s rushing leader (1,359 yards) with teammate Dalton Schoen top among receivers (1,136 yards, 10 touchdowns).
“Bringing their ‘A’ game,” said Adams when asked what to expect from the Bombers.
“They know how important this game is as well. They got all their players healthy as well, we got to bring our ‘A-plus’ game and that’s that.”
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B.C. won the first matchup 30-6, with Winnipeg responding with a resounding 50-14 win in the second game of the season series.
Adams missed the second game due to injury with backup quarterback Dane Evans going 12-of-21 passing for 113 yards and two interceptions. Dominique Davis took over under centre after Evans left with an injury and was 8-of-18 passing for 76 yards.
It’s a series and a result that stuck in the minds of the Lions’ defence.
“You live for these big games,” said defensive co-ordinator Ryan Phillips. “This has been something marked on the calendar from day one. We knew this would be a big at-stake game, possibly for first place.
“I know the guys are eager to seize the opportunity but we need to take it one play at a time.”
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The Lions have only given up more than 40 points to two teams this season: the Toronto Argonauts and the Blue Bombers.
“We want to set a precedent, we want to set a standard early. We want teams to know they can’t do things against us, especially when it comes to playoff time,” said Phillips.
The battle for first in the West features two high-powered offences squaring off against the league’s top two-ranked defences.
Adams enters this week’s action leading the CFL in passing (4,005 yards) but second to Winnipeg’s Zach Collaros in touchdown passes.
“It’s the regular season game of the year for us,” said Lions head coach Rick Campbell.
RAW: Blue Bombers Mike O’Shea Interview – Sept. 29
But he emphasized that it was still just the regular season, and the main focus is on succeeding in the playoffs.
“It’s a big game for a regular season game, but you’re not going to become the Grey Cup champions or not become the Grey Cup champions because of this game, so we’ve got to keep that perspective,” said Campbell.
Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea said he wanted his team to stay focused against the Lions.
“B.C. rolls in all three phases, so you got to set the pace or you’re always trailing,” he said. “I think it’s important for all three phases to get going.”
RAW: Blue Bombers Zach Collaros Interview – Sept 29
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