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High-octane Blue Bombers brace for Roughriders

Jul 1, 2023; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros (8) passes the ball against the Montreal Alouettes during the first quarter at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

Winnipeg and Saskatchewan will tangle twice in seven days, starting with the first-place Blue Bombers visiting the Roughriders for Sunday night’s Labor Day Classic in Regina.

The Blue Bombers (9-2) will turn around and host the West Division rival Roughriders (5-5) the following Saturday.

Winnipeg won the first meeting, 45-27, on the road on June 16 in a wide-open game that featured more than 850 yards of offense.

Zach Collaros passed for 293 yards and two touchdowns and Dalton Schoen caught eight passes for 145 yards and a score for the Blue Bombers. Former starter Trevor Harris threw for 413 yards and connected with Samuel Emilus for three touchdowns to lead the Roughriders.

Winnipeg is on a five-game winning streak and is well-rested following a 47-17 thumping of Montreal on Aug. 24.

Collaros, back after missing one game with a neck injury, threw three interceptions in the first half — including a pair of pick-sixes. He countered with four touchdown passes and Winnipeg scored the game’s last 33 points.

“I think Zach has got another level to him,” Blue Bombers coach Mike O’Shea said, per the CBC. “… I think he can separate (the interceptions), but also use a bit of fuel and say, ‘All right, it’s on.’ Because you see some of the throws he made throughout the game were fantastic.”

Saskatchewan is coming off a 34-29 home win against the second-place B.C. Lions on Aug. 20. The Roughriders led 31-13 entering the fourth quarter and held on for the victory.

Saskatchewan head coach Craig Dickenson named Jacob Dolegala, who threw three TD passes against the Lions, as the starter for Sunday night.

“We’ve got a juggernaut coming into our place this next week. Winnipeg looks awfully good. From watching film these last few days on them, it’ll be a tough game,” Dickenson said, per 620 CKRM. “But we do feel like we’re playing better and getting healthier and I think our confidence is a little bit higher than it was a few weeks ago and hopefully that bodes well for these big games.”

Saskatchewan has a 37-20 record in the Labor Day Classic dating back to 1949, although Winnipeg has won the past two meetings.

–Field Level Media