Green peace? No way!

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

Forget about the Battle of Alberta.

Don't even think about the heat in the Lions Den.

The biggest rival for the Calgary Stampeders over the past few seasons has been the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

So that makes this Saturday's matchup at McMahon Stadium (6 p.m., TSN subject to blackout) the most anticipated date on the schedule.

"The Riders are, without question," receiver Jeremaine Copeland said when asked to name his team's biggest rival.

"A lot of people say Edmonton is, but because of the fan base, these games are a lot bigger than Labour Day."

This is a debate that will have several differing opinions and no definite answer.

Edmonton is the geographical and provincial rival, but outside of 2005, the two teams haven't been competitive at the same time over the past seven years.

The Lions have a former Stampeders coach as their head man in Wally Buono, and the two teams have had battles over the past few years.

But B.C. and Calgary haven't met in the playoffs since 2001, and the Lions have mostly dominated.

With the Riders, the hatred heated up in 2005 when Henry Burris bolted Regina as a free agent, leaving the Stamps as thieves who stole yet another of the province's residents.

But Saskatchewan and its football team rebounded thanks to general manager Eric Tillman and coaches Kent Austin and Ken Miller.

The Roughriders have won the past two playoff meetings between the two teams.

Although veteran Stamps right tackle Jeff Pilon doesn't quite agree the Riders have taken over in terms of rivalries, he admits the playoff losses add to the fire on his side.

"You don't forget that," Pilon said.

"To me, when you lose to a team, of course it's great to see them win the Grey Cup, but you don't forget it. There's still a sour spot.

"They are on a high right now. They've brought every game down to the last few minutes. They know how to finish."

What makes the rivalry so intense for kicker Sandro DeAngelis is stepping out of the helmet and seeing about half of McMahon Stadium covered in green.

DeAngelis calls Regina his favourite road city to play in because of the atmosphere there, but he would like to get at least some home-field advantage.

"It's something that bothers me but I envy it as well," DeAngelis said. "They have so many fans showing up in our building.

"The big cliche in football is this is our backyard, so when your backyard is invaded, you get bothered by it.

"When I was at Nebraska (in college), we would go places and have red show up everywhere. I enjoyed it then, so now I'm jealous.

"Because of that, Saskatchewan is our biggest rival."

It takes two to tango, and the Riders fulfil their side of the equation.

There was a major kerfuffle two years ago when the Stamps hosted the Riders in the playoffs and mascot Gainer the Gopher wasn't allowed on the field at McMahon. It became a major firestorm, which seemed silly at the time, but it upped the excitement level immensely.

The Riders won that game, and last year hosted the Stamps for their first home playoff outing in 19 years.

They won that as well, en route to winning the Grey Cup. They haven't lost since, going 5-0 to start this season.

So if the Stamps get payback, which return specialist Markus Howell said they want, Calgary (3-2) needs to start now.

Howell would love nothing more than to face the Riders in the playoffs this year, which would further add to the rivalry.

"Sure. At home, coming off a first-round bye," said the veteran Canadian. "One win to the show."


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