Let's get physical

Edmonton Eskimos' Derrell Mitchell raises his arms during a team practice Friday morning. The...

Edmonton Eskimos' Derrell Mitchell raises his arms during a team practice Friday morning. The Eskimos take on the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday. (SUN/David Bloom)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

The battle in the trench is bound to be vicious.

However, that battle will probably decide the winner in this afternoon's crucial tilt at Commonwealth Stadium between the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"You know, some games it comes down to the receivers, some games it comes down to the quarterback and some it comes down to the DBs," said Roughrider nose guard Scott Schultz. "But it is going to come down to who is more physical and who is making money on stopping the run or running the football."

In other words, whatever team wins the battle in the trenches today between the offensive and defensive line, therefore establishing the best running game, will likely win.

Four weeks ago this topic wasn't front and centre. But the Eskimos have found a running game after trading for veteran offensive lineman Dan Comiskey and top rusher Troy Davis.

HUGE THREAT

If Davis becomes a huge threat, the Eskimos' feared passing game becomes even more dangerous with the defence having to protect against both options.

On the other bench, the Green and White have the most lethal attack in the league with Kenton Keith, Corey Holmes and Chris Szarka.

It's a huge matchup with huge stakes.

At 9-6 and second place in the West Division, an Eskimo win by more than one point clinches a playoff berth for the 34th consecutive year and keeps hope alive for finishing first in the West Division.

An Edmonton victory by more than a point also drops the Riders four points behind the Eskimos and kills any hope of hosting a playoff game at Taylor Field for the first time since 1988.

It's essentially a $500,000 game to Saskatchewan because that's the value of a home playoff date to a franchise consistently flirting with debt. But the $500,000 question is: Can the Riders stop Davis - again? The recipe for success is simple, according to Rider tackle Nate Davis.

"You get as many people to the ball as you can and you try to knock the ($#$@!) out of him. That's the only way you can limit somebody like Troy," said Davis.

It's worked twice this year.

Saskatchewan practically eliminated Davis while he was wearing a Hamilton uniform. He rushed for just 17 yards in one game and 30 yards in the other, giving him a two-yard average - a far cry from nearly six yards per carry last week against Toronto.

With ex-Eskimo Fred Perry, Shultz and Davis anchoring the D-line, the Riders boast the second-best run defence in the league.

'LIKE OUR CHANCES'

The Eskimos are best in that department, but the Riders registered 101 yards and two TDs on the ground last month in a victory at Taylor Field.

"If we can keep them to 60 or 70 yards and force them to throw then obviously we like our chances," said Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia. "

"But ultimately, we have to contain Holmes and Keith.''


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