Elks face tough challenge against undefeated Bombers in Edmonton

A huge challenge awaits Taylor Cornelius and the Edmonton Elks.

Cornelius helped the Elks (2-4) win 32-31 on the road against the Montreal Alouettes last week in his first start of the season.

But on Friday night, Edmonton takes on the undefeated Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-0).

The defending Gray Cup champions are the only undefeated team in the CFL after knocking out previously undefeated teams in consecutive weeks. Winnipeg defeated the BC Lions 43-22 at BC Place Stadium on July 9 before defeating the Calgary Stampeders 26-19 at IG Field on Friday night.

Winnipeg starter Zach Collaros, the CFL’s MVP last year, is off to a great start. Collaros is the league passing leader having completed 129 of 179 attempts (72.1%) for 1,536 yards with nine touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Newcomer Greg Ellingson has adapted very well to the Bombers. The former Elk leads the CFL in receiving with 34 catches for 518 yards and three touchdowns.

Ellingson had 11 receptions for 152 yards against Calgary while Carlton Agudosi had six receptions for 70 yards and two touchdowns.

Cornelius completed 19 of 31 passes for 230 yards with a touchdown and interceptions against Montreal. Edmonton outscored the Alouettes 14-0 in the fourth quarter to claim the win.

But Winnipeg responds with a defense that is the most stingy in offensive points in the CFL (17.3) and tied for first in offensive touchdowns allowed (seven) and most interceptions (nine). Also, the Bombers aren’t fighting themselves, having committed six turnovers, the lowest in the league.

Edmonton committed 16 turnovers (the second most), including 11 interceptions, a CFL high.

At first glance, this would seem like a potential trap game for Winnipeg. The Bombers will undoubtedly be the heavy favorites, with Edmonton apparently having nothing to lose.

But as talented as Winnipeg is, the club is also very well coached by chef Mike O’Shea and his staff. Overconfidence shouldn’t be a problem.

Choose: Winnipeg.

Montreal Alouettes vs. Ottawa Redblacks (Thursday night)

In Ottawa, Montreal (1-4) is looking to secure the win from interim coach/general manager Danny Maciocia after squandering a 19-point lead against Edmonton. The Als were scored 13 times for 195 yards and had three turnovers against the Elks. Trevor Harris was 19 of 26 passes for 241 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but is 5-2 against the Redblacks (0-5). Caleb Evans is making his second start after completing 18 of 30 passes for 203 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in a 25-23 loss to Hamilton. He also rushed for 62 yards and two touchdowns.

Choose: Montreal.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. BC Lions (Friday Night)

In Vancouver, the Lions (3-1) play for the first time since losing to Winnipeg. Canadian starter Nathan Rourke is averaging 318 passing yards per game this season. But BC will be without linebacker Bo Lokombo (elbow), who was injured against the Bombers and is on the six-game disabled list. Dane Evans has passed for 342 yards with two touchdowns against Ottawa, but Hamilton (1-4) has lost the turnover battle in every game this season.

Choose: British Columbia

Toronto Argonauts vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders (Saturday Night)

In Regina, Sask. (4-2), Wednesday’s practice was canceled after six more players tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number at various stages of the COVID protocol to 10. No decisions have been made on future practices or the actual game, but quarterback Cody Fajardo (knee) is given some much-needed time out. Toronto beat the Riders 30-24 on Saturday in Wolfville, N. Separate incidents last weekend pending appeal.

Choose: Toronto.

Last week: 2-2.

Overall CP record: 19-4.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 20, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. In a previous version, Winnipeg hosted Edmonton this week. In fact, the Elks are the home team.


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