Lions, Ticats to do battle

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

B.C. Lions (9-4) will be seeking a return to the winning trail after their seven-game streak was snapped last Sunday by their prairie nemesis, the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

B.C. visits the last-place Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-11) in a first-against-worst catfight that kicks off a rare CFL Saturday tripleheader.

It'll be the Lions' first trip to Ivor Wynne Stadium this year after sweeping Hamilton in 2005.

It's a must-win because the Lions need every point as they jockey for first place with the Calgary Stampeders. It's also a can't-lose if the Lions follow the four keys to victory.

FOUR PAWS TO SUCCESS

BIG HALFTIME LEAD

If Winnipeg wins tonight, the Ti-Cats' playoff hopes would be dashed for 2006. Otherwise, Hamilton could remain in the picture for at least a day and maybe longer if it could eke out a win over the Lions. To do so would require Hamilton playing mistake-free football or relying on the Lions to offer a tinfoil performance in Steeltown. A sizeable halftime Lions' lead would force Hamilton into desperation mode.

TAKE IT SERIOUSLY

Lions can only consider that home-and-home series with the Calgary Stampeders after they've closed the book on the Hamilton excursion. Hamilton is able to surprise an opponent, as it did on July 14 when Mark Myers scored a final-play field goal to break a tie with the Stampeders. But that was the first game after head coach Greg Marshall's firing and before Calgary hit its stride.

NO MAAS

Hamilton QB Jason Maas may be rolling again after returning to Edmonton to show the Eskimos why they shouldn't have traded him. He was offensive player of the week for the 20-18 win in the Alberta capital after a 26-for-39, 388-yard performance. If he's found his stride again, it'll be up to Brent Johnson to bring Maas down to earth with a thud.

GRAB EVERY BALL

Lions' giveaway/takeaway rating is +21. Hamilton is a dismal -23. 'Nuff said. History says Hamilton will lose the ball. Korey Banks and Barron Miles could have big games in the B.C. backfield. Same goes for linebackers Otis Floyd and Javier Glatt. Saturday night could be alright for inflating individual stats.


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