A fourth win in a row would serve as definitive proof the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are moving in the right direction, especially if it comes against the club with the best record in the CFL.
But it won’t be easy. The Calgary Stampeders have the top defence in the league, a hot quarterback and history going for them.
Since 2012, the Stampeders — who were upended 48-42 in Edmonton last weekend — have strung together two or more losses on only one occasion. That was in 2017, when they dropped three straight to close out the regular-season — a stretch in which they were using a downsized playbook, had already clinched first in their division and were resting some key pieces for a playoff run.
Calgary has also dominated the head-to-head matchup in recent years, with 13 consecutive wins against Hamilton — the longest active streak over a rival by any CFL team. The Tiger-Cats last came out on top 55-36 in September 2011.
Roster notes for Hamilton: Top reciever Brandon Banks is a game-time decision after pulling his groin in last weekend’s 36-25 win over Toronto and cornerback Jumal Rolle is unlikely after taking a knee to the head in the same game (he has been going through the concussion protocol). Expect Josh Johnson to fill the latter’s spot, while Mariel Cooper returns to the active roster as backup. Richard Leonard is also in for injured Frankie Williams (ankle) at halfback. Julian Howsare, Adrian Tracy and Ted Laurent are also all back on the defensive line, and Bobby Richardson is out as a consequence. Finally, Shakeir Ryan replaces Bralon Addison, both receiving and returning kicks.
Roster notes for Calgary: All-star cornerback Ciante Evans misses his second straight start against Hamilton after injuring his ankle on Labour Day. Troy Stoudemire, who hasn’t played corner this season, is expected to fill his spot and could also run back some boots. Ucambre Williams, meanwhile, is out after injuring his knee against Edmonton. Nila Kasitati will start at centre in his absence — the rookie’s first game action since signing with the Stampeders in May.
Numbers to crunch on:
430: The number of net yards per game Hamilton has posted through Week 13 — tops in the CFL. Meanwhile, the team’s 315 net yards against per game is second only to Calgary, which has given up 303 on average.
8: The number of games in which Brandon Banks has registered at least 100 receiving yards — a feat that ties the Tiger-Cats single-season record set by Tony Champion in 1989. He’s on pace to do it in 13 games, which would set a new league high.
1,198: The number of yards Bo Levi Mitchell has thrown for in his last three games — the most of any three-game span in his CFL career. The Calgary quarterback comes into Hamilton with 3,360 passing yards this season, which is third-most in the league and 216 short of Jeremiah Masoli, who’s No. 2.
9: The number of games in which Masoli has passed for 300 or more yards this year, which ties him with Henry Burris for the Tiger-Cats record. The latter threw for 4,927 total yards in 2013, before leading the team to a Grey Cup appearance.
1: The number of back-to-back losses Mitchell has suffered since taking over as starting QB in 2014. Last October, he was outmatched by Saskatchewan and Edmonton in consecutive weeks.
10-0: Mitchell’s record in 10 career starts against Hamilton. The Stamps pivot has faced five different Tiger-Cats starters in that span — Zach Collaros, Dan LeFevour, Jeff Mathews, Burris and Masoli.
2015: The last year in which the Tiger-Cats won four straight games. They strung together five, actually, that July and August.
Weather: 27 C with a mix of sun and cloud.