LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Ottawa REDBLACKS @Calgary Stampeders, June 28, 7p (9p EST, 3a June 29 CEST)

CALGARY — McMahon Stadium is a place of polar opposites for the Ottawa REDBLACKS and Calgary Stampeders.

For Rick Campbell’s REDBLACKS, it’s a place that has not been kind. An 0-4 record, with minimum 38 points against on every trip, signals a block for Ottawa at Calgary’s home field.

On the flip side of this week’s Thursday Night Football matchup, the Stampeders are 17-2 at home dating back to 2016 and have looked largely unbeatable since.

Campbell and co., however, are not deterred ahead of their trip to Calgary.

“It can be tricky (the travel),” Campbell told OttawaREDBLACKS.com. “We’re going to treat it like a home game from the standpoint we got all our work done (at home) — flying in in the afternoon, (so) eating and sleeping schedules won’t be disrupted too much.”

The REDBLACKS looked strong in their season opener, a 40-17 win over Saskatchewan, last week; as per usual, Campbell did not get overly excited following an early-season victory.

“Every win is big, they’re very hard to get,” said the fifth-year head coach. “But we won a home game in June, and I hope our sights are bigger than that — we respect winning, but it’s a long road ahead (with) 17 more games. You really need to reload.”

Ottawa faces a monumental challenge entering McMahon Stadium on Thursday night — of that there is little doubt — but Campbell believes his charges are up to the task.

“They have a lot of good players, (and) they’re well-coached,” said Campbell. “They have a ton of continuity between their players and coaches, so they know what they’re doing around there. We have the ultimate respect for them.”

To put it lightly, none of Ottawa’s four trips to Cowtown have gone well — think losses of 38-17 (Aug. 9, 2014), 48-3 (Aug. 15, 2015), 48-23 (Sep. 17, 2016) and 43-39 (June 29, 2017).

REDBLACKS defensive end Avery Ellis believes discipline will be key against a deep, versatile Calgary offence.

“Our biggest thing is (being) consistent, bringing it from Week 2 through 18,” said Ellis. “Calgary’s really dynamic, they do a lot of different things very well. As long as we stay disciplined, we’ll tame them to the best of our ability.”

One thing is almost certain for the REDBLACKS: If Diontae Spencer goes off — on offence or in the return game — they’re going to have a good day.

The New Iberia, La. native has showcased elite speed in both phases, and appears poised to built on last season’s 922-yard performance.

“I would give us a B-plus,” said Spencer of Ottawa’s Week 2 win. “There were a lot of things we could’ve done better, but we got the win. We’re practicing to correct those things.”

A winning mentality — something that has perhaps deserted the REDBLACKS late in games in recent seasons — was key to closing out the Riders on home turf.

“At half-time, the mindset was just ‘let’s put these guys away’,” continued Spencer. “We knew they’d come back swinging, and we didn’t want to let them back into the game. ‘Let’s finish strong and put them away’, and that’s what we did.”

On roster front, the REDBLACKS made pair of changes: two rookies in Reggie Daniels (cornerback) and George Uko (D-tackle) slot in, while receiver Noel Thomas Jr. and linebacker Anthony Cioffi both hit the one-game injured list.

Two weeks into the 2018 season, it appears to be business as usual for the Calgary Stampeders.

Bo Levi Mitchell and the cavalry are fresh off an annihilation of the Argonauts in Toronto, and at 2-0 sit in the first-place position they’ve grown accustomed to over the past few seasons.

But this week’s test against the REDBLACKS — a team that’s tied the Stamps early in each of the last two seasons — presents a unique challenge.

“Early in the year, they’re as tough a matchup as anybody,” Calgary head coach Dave Dickenson told Stampeders.com. “They always start out the year super fast because their offence is clicking (and) they’ve been running the same type of stuff for a while. We usually have a tight, tight game and we’re expecting the same tomorrow.”

Veteran national defensive back Adam Berger will start at safety for the Stamps this week in place of the injured Tunde Adeleke.

The 27-year-old Berger spent last season with the REDBLACKS and knows the narrow margin between the two teams from both perspectives.

“It’s unreal — it’s good football to watch, (but) playing it’s a bit stressful,” laughed the Simon Fraser product. “That’s what you want, a high compete level. They’re fun games. It’s what we expect every week (because) this league is filled with good teams.”

Berger was signed to provide veteran depth in the secondary and on special teams, and former teammate Josh Bell was one of his main proponents.

“I’m extremely comfortable with Berger being in playing safety,” said Bell, now Calgary’s defensive backs coach. “He’s made Tunde a whole lot better through training camp, he was my backup for many years and my first request as coach. I truly trust him back there.”

Also drawing out of the lineup is defensive lineman Cordarro Law, while receiver Marken Michel will miss his second straight week of action.

“They were close, but not close enough,” explained Dickenson. “I’m putting the best (roster) together, and if you’re not sure you can make it through a game…the roster’s too small. If you’re battling something, and we’ve got good guys…”

After a shutdown performance in Toronto last weekend, the Stamps’ DB unit is excited about the challenge presented by Ottawa.

“Every time we play those guys they play us tough,” said Ciante Evans. “Defensively, they put a lot of force on us, as far as being a balanced offensive attack. So we really have to be on our P’s and Q’s. We’ve got to make life tough on them, get (our) hands on guys. (They’ve got) really good receivers, between 82 and 85, and I know they’re going to come to work tomorrow.”

Calgary’s team chemistry should be boosted by the team’s Week 2 roadtrip — both the victory itself and the bonding time away from home.

“We gained a little camaraderie,” laughed Dickenson. “We stayed in Mississauga. Wasn’t much to do out there, so the guys stuck together.”

Crunchin’ Numbers:

0 – Teams to have won a game after losing the turnover battle. Since 2011, teams with fewer turnovers in a game are 379-78 (.829).

6 – League-high sacks registered by Calgary this season. Even without Law on the line, the quartet of James VaughtersDerek WigganMicah Johnson and JaGared Davis is downright terrifying.

7 – Wins for Trevor Harris in his last eight starts. The Ottawa QB threw for 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns in last week’s win.

203 – Rush yards for Calgary’s Don Jackson through two weeks — the most in the CFL. Keep in mind that RB-2 option Terry Williams has also run for 103 yards.

Every CFL.ca writer and nearly 90 per cent of the voting public is picking the Stamps, but if recent history is any indication, this week’s edition of Thursday Night Football will be a lot tighter than most anticipate.

These are two teams who’ve shared the spoils in two games over the past two years, and the memories of that chilly night in Toronto at the 105th Grey Cup still loom large for some.

For Calgary, it’s a question of who will step up; Dave Dickenson’s team has an embarrassment of riches on offence, but is dealing with injuries on defence. Will Don Jackson or Terry Williams get the majority of touches? How will Lemar Durant factor in his return?

In Ottawa, expectations are inflated after a promising home win against the Riders. Can Trevor Harris finally establish himself as elite? Will Diontae Spencer become the pre-eminent receiver in the East?

Questions, questions and more questions.

Strap on your boots, because this promises to be one heck of a matchup.

– With files from OttawaREDBLACKS.ca/Stampeders.com

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2018 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

LIVE STREAM: CFL – Ottawa REDBLACKS @Calgary Stampeders, June 28, 7p (9p EST, 3a June 29 CEST)

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