Argos at Ticats Game Preview

CFL FootballThe big one is finally here. And this one may be the most important Labour Day Classic ever.

For the first time in the history of the Labour Day Classic, the Ticats and Argos will battle it out with the winner claiming sole possession of first place in the East Division. Never before have the stakes been higher for these two teams on the September holiday Monday.

Labour Day records

Labour Day is just a different day. Just like their counterparts out west, it doesn’t seem to matter what the records because both teams bring their best when they clash on the first Monday in September. These two teams have met 46 times on Labour Day, with the Ticats holding a 30-15-1 record over their provincial rivals. Also, the Ticats have won three of last four, with the lone Argo victory coming in 2012. With both teams vying for top spot in the East, this one has a chance to be considered amongst the best Classics of all time.

Bouncing back

A little over a year after Tim Hortons Field opened, the Ticats have to deal with something they previously never dealt with: bouncing back from a loss at home. The Als handed the Ticats their first defeat at their new digs last week, so it will be on the Ticats to put that behind them and get back to their winning ways on home soil. The Ticats have already taken down the Argos twice at Tim Hortons Field — a 34-18 win earlier this year, as well as a 13-12 win last year on Labour Day — but the third time seemed to be the charm for the Als, as they knocked the Ticats off in their third trip to Tim Hortons Field. Could the same thing happen for tomorrow? We will see.

Best vs. Worst

Hamilton likes to throw the ball. That we know. Zach Collaros leads the league in passing yards and the team, not surprisingly, has the CFL’s No. 1 passing attack. The Ticats could have a field day going up against the Argos as Toronto comes into the game with the league’s worst passing defense, allowing 290 yards per game. Hamilton is the only team to average more than 300 yards per game through the air, and if you add those two things together, it spells disaster for the double blue. If the Argos cannot find a way to slow down Hamilton’s potent passing attack, it could end up being a very long afternoon for boys from the Big Smoke.

Slowing the Argo trio

The Argos have had a lot of bright spots this season, with the play of a trio of rookie receivers being near the top of the list. The threesome of Vidal Hazelton, Kevin Elliott and Tori Gurley have far exceeded any expectations people had for them. All three are in the top 25 in receiving yards, with Hazleton incredibly sitting in fourth spot after nine games. With Hamilton’s secondary a bit banged up — both Johnny Sears, Jr. and Mike Daly will sit out tomorrow’s game — the Ticats will need some less heralded players to step up and not allow one or more members of the Argos triumvirate to have a big game.

Dealing with injuries… again

It seems as if every week the Ticats are trying to make due with a less than ideal lineup. The game against Montreal didn’t just hurt in the standings, but also on the roster. Eric Norwood, Ryan Bomben, Mike Daly, Johnny Sears, Jr., Byron Archambault and Hugh O’Neill all suffered injuries that will force them to miss tomorrow’s game. The Ticats are used to dealing with injuries, and the fact that they are in first place despite all the injuries they have suffered is a testament to the depth this team has, but at some point it will become too much. Maybe that is this week as the Argos look to be as healthy as they have been all season, while the Ticats’ injuries just seem to keep mounting.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.