LIVESTREAM CFL: BC Lions @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Aug. 4, 02:30 CET (2:30 am, 8:30 pm EDT Aug. 2)

WINNIPEG — It’s a matchup of the best in the West Division to kick off Week 9 as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers play host to the BC Lions at IG Field on Thursday night.

Winnipeg has had extra time to prepare as they were on a bye last week after a 28-14 win over Edmonton in Week 7.

BC heads into this week’s game coming off of their second shutout of the Edmonton Elks this season.

The Blue Bombers’ offence is finding its rhythm and will pose a significant test to a Lions’ defence that has allowed a league-low 94 points.

In the Bombers’ win over the Elks, Zach Collaros threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Brady Oliveira rushed for another 110 on 17 carries. Not only has Oliveira been a weapon on the ground, he’s also among the league leaders when it comes to yards after the catch with 205, adding to an already deep receiving unit.

» Depth Chart: WPG | BC

It’ll have to be all hands on deck if the Bombers hope to move down the field with efficiency as the Lions are holding their opposition to 253.9 net yards of offence.

Surrendering just 214.1 pass yards through seven games, the Lions’ secondary anchored by T.J. LeeMarcus Sayles and Garry Peters will key in on star receiver Dalton Schoen, who Collaros has targeted a team high 52 times and is averaging 16.3 yards per catch. In the red zone, it continues to be Drew Wolitarsky leading the way with four touchdown receptions. Kenny Lawler also hasn’t missed a beat despite missing the first six games of the season. He had seven catches for 93 yards against the Elks in his season debut.

Watch live. BC Lions @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Aug. 4, 02:30 CET (2:30 am, 8:30 pm EDT Aug. 2)

Facing a strong defence, Lawler knows he’s in for a big test in just his second game.

“I’m always up for the challenge,” Lawler told “I’m a competitor. We have a good BC Lions team over there. Some people are saying it’s the most experienced defence of a back half in the league. Well you know what? I’m ready for it. That’s who I want to face. I’m pretty sure when they come here we’re going to get their best efforts and its going to be a good game.”

It’s a Lions secondary that has done a good job at limiting yards but has recorded a league low four interceptions, the same number Collaros has thrown. With turnovers being few and far between, tight coverage will be key if the Lions want to keep points off the board.

In a game that could come down to the play of the defences, Bombers’ head coach Mike O’Shea should be feeling good about the talent on his side.

The Bombers have 25 sacks, have picked off seven passes and recovered five fumbles on the year.

Defensive lineman Willie Jefferson’s eight sacks trails the Lions Mathieu Betts by two for the league lead. He’s also helped defend the pass by knocking down seven passes.

Speaking of the pass defence, Lions’ quarterback Dane Evans will be on high alert for Demerio Houston, who has five interceptions. Like Jefferson, Houston has made an impact in multiple facets of the defensive game as he’s returned three fumbles.

Houston won’t be able to do it alone though, as Evans has multiple weapons at his disposal. It means O’Shea will need Brandon Alexander, Evan Holm and Deatrick Nichols to work collectively to limit yardage.

Evans will be making his second straight start in place of the injured Vernon Adams Jr. He threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns against the Elks, but more importantly didn’t throw an interception.

The Lions’ offensive line’s job will be to keep the Bombers’ pass rush at bay and give their quarterback the opportunity to spread the field.

The receiving corps will see the return of Dominique Rhymes. He’ll join Alexander Hollins and Keon Hatcher who pulled down 94 and 87 yards a week ago, respectively.

Evans understands the challenge ahead of his team and knows the offence needs to be in sync from the start.

“We know we have a good opponent coming up in a tough environment,” Evans told reporters. “It’s another opportunity to go out there and lead the guys. We know its going to be tough, a loud crowd, good stadium, great defence, great fans. It’ll be fun to go out there, operate and have fun.”

With a secondary capable of shutting down any receiving unit in the league, the front isn’t to be outdone when it comes to causing problems for its opponent.

The defensive line of Betts, Woody Baron and Sione Teuhema will attempt to add to their 25 sacks against a team that’s given up 18.

Watch live. BC Lions @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Aug. 4, 02:30 CET (2:30 am, 8:30 pm EDT Aug. 2)

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