LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Saskatchewan Roughriders @Edmonton Eskimos, August 2, 7p (10p EST, 4a Aug. 3 CEST)

EDMONTON — The Saskatchewan Roughriders and Edmonton Eskimos will clash for the first time this season on Thursday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

One of the biggest storylines heading into the West showdown? the return of starting quarterback Zach Collaros.

The Riders have confirmed that Zach will be back on Thursday night. The 29-year-old has been sidelined since Week 2 when he suffered a head injury, but was activated from the six-game injured list on Monday.

“I’m definitely excited to be back out there with the guys,” Collaros told Riderville.com. “They’re a divisional opponent, a very good football team. A team that’s on a two game winning streak. We lost our last one, so we’re excited to get back out there. It was a short week. We corrected some mistakes. We’re just excited to get out there against a great opponent and we’re ready for the challenge.”

The Riders fell to the top team in the league last week, losing to the Calgary Stampeders 34-22. The game was out of reach early for Saskatchewan after giving up 24 points in the first 15 minutes. Saskatchewan outscored Calgary 22-10 through the remaining three quarters, but it was too little too late.

The Riders struggled to find momentum on offence. The team’s only touchdown was a pick-six by Tobi Antigha, while defensive lineman Charleston Hughes recorded two quarterback sacks.

“It’s always frustrating because we know that we’re a better team than that,” Antigha said after the game. “Defensively and special teams wise we gave up too many big plays…. The good thing about football is that we have another game next week.”

There will be some significant changes to the Riders lineup when they face off against the Eskimos.

Defensive back Nick Marshall has been activated off the injured list and will start at corner for the Riders. As a result of Marshall’s return, Duron Carter is back on offence.

“They’re awful good players,” said head coach Chris Jones. “They came out of camp as starters for a reason. They haven’t been active for quite sometime so it’s not going to be seamless for them. We’re glad to have them back.”

The Riders offence will have to be at their best to match the firepower of Mike Reilly and company, who are averaging a league best 443.5 yards per game.

Edmonton’s offence was in full force last week, racking up a 44-23 win over the Montreal Alouettes.

Reilly was dominant from start to finish, throwing for 415 yards and four touchdown passes. Duke Williams led all receivers with 116 yards and two touchdowns on just four receptions while Kenny Stafford raked in 105 yards on five catches.

The Esks are now focused on the Riders and picking up their third win in a row.

“They’re a great defence,” Reilly told Esks.com. “It’s a Chris Jones defence. He’s always had very good defences… They’re a team you don’t want to make mistakes against. You don’t want to take penalties. You don’t want to be in second and long.”

Reilly leads the league in a number of categories heading into Week 8, including passing yards (2,063), and passing touchdowns (13). His go-to target has been Williams, who leads the league in receiving yards (672), receiving touchdowns (5) and receiving targets (61). Williams has recorded 100-plus receiving yards in his last five games.

While Head Coach Jason Maas knows that he has one of the top offences in the league, he is also aware of the challenges that come with playing the Riders’ defence.

“The hardest part of facing any defence is when they have the ability to put pressure on you with a limited amount of people, and they have physical players that can do that,” said Maas. “Whenever they rush three, you can’t just think you’re going to sit back there and have all the time…they’re fully capable of making your life miserable at any time with those guys.”

In recent history, the Eskimos have often come out on top in their rivalry against the Riders. Edmonton has won 13 of its past 20 matchups dating back to 2011, and has not lost a series to Saskatchewan since 2013. Reilly is 7-2 against the Esks in his last nine starts.

Can Reilly and the Eskimos continue their dominance over the Riders, or will Collaros’ return lead Saskatchewan to victory?

Crunchin’ Numbers

4 – Edmonton has allowed only 4 sacks all season on pace for only 12 in 2018. The club record for fewest allowed in one season is 25 allowed in 2003, more than double their current pace.

8 – League leading sacks for Riders defensive lineman Charleston Hughes. The 34-year-old has recorded a sack in four consecutive games.

6,189 – Passing yards that Mike Reilly is on pace for this season. That would rank third all-time behind Doug Flutie’s 6,619 (1991) and Kent Austin (6,225 in 1992).

Both the Riders and Esks have started slow out of the gate this season.

Edmonton has trailed after the first quarter in each of the last five games, but rebounded to win three of those five. Their scoring differential is minus-24 in the first quarter but from the second quarter on they are plus-48.

The Riders have also struggled early, scoring just 11 points in the first 15 minutes all season. However, Saskatchewan seems to find its groove later in the game and is plus-17 over the final 45 minutes.

No lead will be safe during this game.

– With files from Riderville.com/Esks.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 PPV: CFL – Saskatchewan Roughriders @Edmonton Eskimos, August 2, 7p (10p EST, 4a Aug. 3 CEST)

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