Riders’ Craig Dickenson on point differential vs. Lions: ‘If we gotta kick one late, we will’

Photo courtesy: CFL

Saskatchewan Roughriders’ head coach Craig Dickenson knows that the winner of Friday’s game against B.C. will gain sole possession of second place in the West Division standings.

Almost as important as the game’s final result is the point differential as Saskatchewan currently holds a slight advantage over B.C. by virtue of their 33-29 win from Week 1.

“I think it’s four or five [points]. I’ll know it,” Dickenson told the media on Wednesday with a chuckle. “I will be aware of it, trust me. If we gotta kick one late, we will.”

The Riders hosted the Lions in their season-opener on Aug. 6 in what was one of the most memorable games ever played at Mosaic Stadium.

Saskatchewan got out to a 31-0 lead in the first half after Nathan Rourke made a surprise start in place of an injured Michael Reilly. The veteran quarterback took over the controls after halftime and jumpstarted B.C.’s offence, leading them to back to a close finish.

The clubs have only two meetings on the schedule this season, which means point differential will serve as the tiebreaker if the teams finish the year with the same record.

“We have a playoff mentality for this game,” said quarterback Cody Fajardo. “From here on out, it’s playoff mentality. You’ve got a good B.C. team that is also 4-2. We’re tied in the standings together and this could give us the edge in the tiebreaker.”

B.C. needs to beat Saskatchewan by more than four points if they hope to earn the tiebreaker in the West Division standings. Conversely, the Riders can capture the tiebreaker even if they lose on Friday, provided they keep the game within a field goal.

When asked if he considers the game a must-win to try to secure a home playoff game, Dickenson indicated he doesn’t.

“We haven’t honestly thought about that,” said the second-year head coach. “There’s a lot of football still to be played. We try our best to take it one game at a time.”

The Riders will be without starting left tackle Andrew Lauderdale, though veteran defensive back Ed Gainey is likely to return from a foot injury. B.C. may get star Canadian slotback Lemar Durant back in the lineup as he was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday as he works back from a foot injury.

The game kicks off at 10:30 p.m. ET on Friday night at BC Place Stadium.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.