Riders pushing for first home playoff game in five years

The Saskatchewan Roughriders haven’t hosted a home playoff game since 2013, but they are firmly in control of changing that.

The Riders earned a 34-29 home win Sunday over the Montreal Alouettes. That left Saskatchewan (9-5) second in the West Division standings, four points behind first-place Calgary (11-2) but four points ahead of both Edmonton (7-7) and Winnipeg (7-7).

What’s more, Saskatchewan’s four remaining regular-season games are within the West Division, playing each squad once down the stretch. That begins Monday with hosting Edmonton, which lost 30-3 at home Saturday night to Winnipeg.

The Riders’ last home playoff game was a memorable one. They defeated the B.C. Lions 29-25 in the West Division semi-final before dispatching the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 45-23 in the Grey Cup game at Mosaic Stadium, which was also in Regina.

Saskatchewan finds itself on a nice roll, having won six of its last seven games since quarterback Zach Collaros’s return under centre. On Sunday, Collaros threw for 394 yards with a TD and interception. The 300-yard performance was Collaros’s first this season.

“I could care less about 300-yard games,” Collaros said. “The arbitrary number of 300 means absolutely nothing. I just want to win games.”

Saskatchewan acquired Collaros from Hamilton prior to the ’18 season and signed him to a restructured, one-year deal. Collaros had lost his final 12 starts with the Ticats – one short of the league record – but ended that dubious stretch by leading the Riders to a season-opening 27-19 win over Toronto on June 15.

Edmonton and Saskatchewan have met already this season, the Eskimos taking a 26-19 decision Aug. 2 at Commonwealth Stadium.

“All you’ve got to do is look at the standings and see how important it is,” Chris Jones, the Riders head coach/GM, said of Monday’s showdown with Edmonton. “Our goal is to win the Grey Cup and host a playoff game, that’s what good teams do.

“If we start looking too far in the future that’s the worst thing you can do. You just have to take them one at a time and show up to every one of these games and have fun preparing for them while you’re there.”

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