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LeFevour to earn second CFL start when Ticats take on Blue Bombers

Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dan LeFevour runs in the game-winning touchdown past Montreal Alouettes defensive tackle Moton Hopkins (95) during overtime East Division semifinal CFL action in Guelph, Ont., on Sunday, November 10, 2013. LeFevour will make his second straight appearance under centre Thursday when the Tiger-Cats host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats quarterback Dan LeFevour runs in the game-winning touchdown past Montreal Alouettes defensive tackle Moton Hopkins (95) during overtime East Division semifinal CFL action in Guelph, Ont., on Sunday, November 10, 2013. LeFevour will make his second straight appearance under centre Thursday when the Tiger-Cats host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Dan LeFevour has a tough act to follow: His own.

The third-year pro was impressive in his first CFL start, passing for 361 yards and a TD while adding 109 yards rushing and the go-ahead touchdown in Hamilton's 33-23 home win over Ottawa on Saturday night. LeFevour will again be under centre Thursday night when the Tiger-Cats host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Ron Joyce Stadium on the campus of McMaster University.

LeFevour led Hamilton (1-3) to its first victory of the season and into a tie for tops in the weak East Division. And, for good measure, he also earned CFL offensive player of the week honours.

The contest was a breakout of sorts for Hamilton's offence, which rolled up 558 total yards. The Ticats were especially effective early, scoring twice on their first five plays and gaining 158 yards in the process.

Another key offensive contributor was C.J. Gable. The sophomore running back ran six times for 62 yards and a TD while adding three catches for a team-high 105 yards. Gable took a LeFevour screen pass 83 yards late against Ottawa to set up LeFevour's one-yard TD run that broke a 23-23 tie.

The Ticats have the misfortune of facing a Winnipeg team coming off an impressive 23-6 win over B.C. It was a statement victory for the Bombers (4-1) as it came on the heels of a decisive 26-3 loss to the Edmonton Eskimos the week before.

Quarterback Drew Willy was 18-of-26 passing for 250 yards with a TD and interception while Nick Moore had seven catches for 99 yards. However, Winnipeg's defence picked B.C.'s Kevin Glenn off twice, recorded five sacks and recovered a fumble.

And as impressive as Willy has been this year — he spearheads the CFL's top-scoring offence — Winnipeg's defence is tied for second overall in takeaways with 11 (four interceptions, four fumble recovers, three on downs) and third in sacks (17). And then there's the matter of the Bombers' stellar 3-0 record versus East Division teams this year.

PICK — Winnipeg.

Toronto Argonatus versus Montreal Alouettes (7 p.m. ET on Friday night)

Something has to give between these two struggling clubs. Montreal (1-3) has added former head coach Don Matthews and former Buffalo Bills offensive co-ordinator Turk Schonert as consultants. Matthews served as a consultant with the Alouettes for the second half of last season. Quarterback Troy Smith starts despite a horrible start to the 2014 campaign. The former Heisman Trophy winner has completed just 48.7 per cent of his passes with three touchdowns and three interceptions as the Als are last or near the bottom of most of the league's major offensive categories. Toronto (1-4) continues to struggle offensively with the loss of veteran receivers Chad Owens (foot), Andre Durie (clavicle) and Jason Barnes (knee). Quarterback Ricky Ray still leads the CFL in passing (1,501 yards) but hasn't always looked in sync with his replacement receivers, not good against a very sound Montreal defence. The Argos' defence, which the Als have had two weeks to prepare for, is giving up a league-worst 29.8 points per game.

PICK — Montreal.

B.C. Lions versus Calgary Stampeders (10 p.m. ET on Friday night)

A Calgary win puts quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell's name into the CFL record book. It would be Mitchell's eighth straight victory to begin a career and move him past former Stampeders star Jeff Garcia. Mitchell hasn't always been lights out for the Stamps (4-0) but is second in TD passes (seven) and is the only CFL starter yet to throw an interception. He's also the only starter with a quarterback efficiency rating over 100 (104.8) despite not looking good in last week's 26-22 victory over Edmonton. But Calgary also sports a defence allowing a league-low 13 points per game. B.C. (2-3) looked very good in recording consecutive wins over Saskatchewan and Montreal but came crashing back to earth in a 23-6 home loss to Winnipeg. Glenn makes his first appearance in Calgary after being left unprotected by the club in the CFL expansion draft in December. Glenn was solid with the Stampeders, leading them to a Grey Cup berth in '12 and a league-best 14-4 record last season. But with the Stamps being at McMahon, got to give the home team the nod here.

PICK — Calgary

Saskatchewan Roughriders versus Ottawa Redblacks (7 p.m. ET on Saturday)

Another sellout for the expansion Redblacks (1-3) at TD Place, where they registered their only victory this season — an 18-17 decision over Toronto on July 18, thanks to six Brett Maher field goals. Quarterback Henry Burris was 27-of-44 passing for 290 yards and two TDs on Saturday in Hamilton but Ottawa came up short in a 33-23 loss to the Ticats. A huge silver lining, though, was receiver Marcus Henry, who had 10 catches for 138 yards and a TD. But Hamilton had over 550 total yards against Ottawa's defence, not exactly an endearing stat. Riders running back Will Ford ran for 113 yards on 17 carries and scored three touchdowns in leading Saskatchewan (2-2) past Toronto 37-9 on Saturday night. That could be bad news for the Redblacks, who had their difficulties containing LeFevour's runs and were torched by Gable's catch off a screen pass.

PICK — Saskatchewan.

Last week: 3-1

Record so far: 10-10

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