LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Ottawa REDBLACKS @Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Saturday Oct. 27, 4p (10p CET)

HAMILTON — The two East Division teams headed to the Grey Cup playoffs collide for the second time in as many weeks in Week 20, as the Tiger-Cats host the Ottawa REDBLACKS at Tim Hortons Field.

Rick Campbell’s REDBLACKS earned a 35-31 decision last weekend in the nation’s capital, pulling firmly into the driver’s seat in the race for the East’s regular season crown.

Last week’s defeat was a doubly painful one for the Ticats, who in addition to falling a game behind Ottawa also lost star receiver Brandon Banks to a broken clavicle for the season.

Thus, Saturday’s game is a big one: Hamilton is fighting to stay alive in the proverbial pennant race, while also trying to find a quick replacement for Banks’s hefty production.

The main news in REDBLACKS camp revolves around the running back position, where the team could start Mossis Madu for the first time this season.

“We’ll take both of them on the trip, but it could be a good bet that Mossis is going this week,” Coach Campbell told the team’s official website, “We want to use the healthiest guy, and he’s a good player and available.”

Madu, an Oklahoma product, has seen his touches diminish since a career-high 119 back in 2014 with the Tiger-Cats; regular running back William Powell is banged up.

“He’s a veteran guy that’s played a lot of football, and he’s going to be fresh,” continued Campbell. “We anticipate a windy, rainy (running) day, and we’re going to take them both on the road.

“What an opportunity to go on the road and clinch first place.”

The prospect of travelling to a raucous Tim Hortons Field for a meaningful game — something Hamilton fans haven’t necessarily experienced in a few years — is a challenging one for the REDBLACKS.

“It’s going to be tough, they’re a good team and it’s a hostile environment in Hamilton, they love their football there,” said offensive lineman Alex Mateas. “We have to make sure we come out with energy and ready to fight. It’s going to take every single player on every single play.”

At this stage of the season, Ottawa defensive back Jonathan Rose believes it comes down to who wants it more.

“It’s always difficult, at this point of the season with so much on the line,” said Rose. “They’re going to have the same scheme, we’re going to have the same scheme, so it’ll be whichever team shows up and plays the hardest.”

It’s Terrell Time in the Hammer.

Terrell Sinkfield will make his much-anticipated return to the black and yellow this week, and will be expected to immediately shoulder some of the load carried by the injured Brandon Banks.

“That’s my roommate, before all this went down, (and) he’s doing a lot better now,” Sinkfield, a 1,000-yard receiver with the Tabbies back in 2015, told “He had his surgery, but when we’re at the house we talk about plays a lot, and he helped me out (with) different leverages or spots to be on the field.”

It’s a receiver group that looks a lot different now than at the beginning of the season for Hamilton.

Aside from Luke Tasker and Mike Jones, the rest of the starting personnel is vastly different: Marquay McDaniel, who began the season as an assistant coach at McMaster University, will start at slot, while rookie Justin Buren will make his third straight start.

“We’re gonna have (Sinkfield) in a good spot. I think he’s a player,” said Head Coach June Jones of Sinkfield, who saw most of his reps down south in the defensive secondary. “He’s been living with Brandon, so he’s getting coached at night and during the day here, and he’s a real smart kid.

“I’m a little surprised the NFL didn’t make him a receiver, too.”

Roster-wise, Banks hits the six-game injured list and receiver Rashad Lawrence moves to the practice roster this week; D-end Adrian Tracy is on the depth chart as a game-time decision, along with D-tackle Jason Neill.

The situation for Jones and his team is clear: Win at home, or else.

Hamilton is just 4-3 at Tim Hortons Field, and its route to the Grey Cup in Edmonton will require them to win at home.

“If we hadn’t lost any home games right now — which was our goal — we’d be where we wanted to be,” lamented Jones. “We lost home games, so now it becomes (us winning) three or four on the road. We’re at the point where winning at home is mandatory.”

By The Numbers:

98 – Per cent kicking rate for Ottawa’s rookie sensation kicker Lewis Ward; the University of Ottawa product has made 45 consecutive field goal attempts, the longest streak in professional football history.

151 – Yards needed by REDBLACKS QB Trevor Harris needs to eclipse the 5,000-yard mark for the first time in his career; Harris trails Mike Reilly by 393 yards for the league lead, and could become just the second Ottawa QB to lead the league in passing since Russ Jackson in 1969.

407 – Net offensive yards per game for the Ticats, the best mark in the league; Ottawa is not far behind in third place averaging 390.

428 – Defensive tackles for Hamilton linebacker Simoni Lawrence, the second most in franchise history since the league began tracking the statistic in 1987; Lawrence passed the legendary Joe Montford for second on the franchise list last week.

While both previous meetings have been one-score contests, the REDBLACKS have exercised a certain degree of dominance over Hamilton this year; the season series is already locked up in Ottawa’s favour, so all the team from the nation’s capital has to do is win one of its last two games in order to win the East.

With that said, there is no love lost between these squads and fans should not expect any kind of drop in intensity — especially from the Ticats, who have something to prove following the loss of their leading man Banks.

It’s the second meeting in as many weeks, and a potential preview of the Eastern Final: Buckle up, folks.

– With files from

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

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LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL – Ottawa REDBLACKS @Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Saturday Oct. 27, 4p (10p CET)

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