Battle of the basement

Edmonton Eskimos QB Ricky Ray throws the ball at the Esks Practice at Commonwealth Practice Field...

Edmonton Eskimos QB Ricky Ray throws the ball at the Esks Practice at Commonwealth Practice Field Aug 1/07 morning. (Brendon Dlouhy/Edmonton SUN)

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

It hasn't happened for 57 seasons.

It was back in 1950. The Calgary Stampeders ended up last and the Edmonton Eskimos next to last.

Only once in all of the 58 years of Eskimos history has there been such an upside-down set of standings for these two teams as there is right now.

When did the Battle of Alberta become the Battle of the Basement?

Dating back to 1949 when the Eskimos came into being, either Edmonton or Calgary finished either first or second an astounding 51 times.

They've finished 1-2 on 14 of those occasions.

It's been 21 years since there hasn't been a playoff game held on Alberta soil.

"I can't recall these two teams being where they are right now," said Calgary coach Tom Higgins.

That's because they haven't been. Ever.

Even in 1950 Edmonton's battle was actually for second. The Esks ended up tied with Saskatchewan with 14 points.

Calgary was way back.

Next-to-last that year, had an asterisk.

When the Roughriders won in B.C. Thursday night, however, suddenly there was separation in the standings.

HISTORICAL MOMENT

For the first time since 1988, the Roughriders are looking at playing a home playoff game.

Not once in all of CFL history have the Lions and Roughriders finished 1-2 in the West. All of that will be the background music which will be playing on the wind and in the rain tonight at Commonwealth.

"It's still week six," said much-maligned Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris. "In a couple of weeks we could be first and Edmonton could be second.

"We're 2-3. In five weeks we could be 8-3," said Burris.

Uh, wouldn't that take six weeks, Hank?

Whatever it would take it would be a dramatic turnaround from what we've witnessed from the Stampeders so far. They're 0-2 on road with 23 points for and 97 against. And they're 0-2 against the West with 35 points for and 81 against.

Like the Eskimos, they're coming off a Gong Show last week.

"That's as disgusted as I have been in recent memory," said Higgins.

"You wonder if you have the right players, the right coaches, the right administration and even the right cheerleaders. You think the players are bad, the coaches are bad, the administration is bad and the cheerleaders are bad.

"Although I have to say, this year the cheerleaders are more athletic."

Higgins also added that his cheerleaders have been more entertaining.

The two teams are a combined minus 17 in the take-away give-away statistics.

If you count Eskimo Tyler Ebell's 1,000-Slurpee brain freeze in which he allowed the punter to recover a punt while he held his hands in the air, the two teams combined for 12 turnovers last week alone.

The Stamps aren't even into the meat of their schedule.

"This year we have 22.2% of our games against the B.C. Lions. That's really fair," said Higgins.

Two weeks ago the Eskimos entered the most important section of their schedule with six of seven games against either Saskatchewan or Calgary. In three of the last four quarters the Eskimos have played, they've been outscored 74-15. These two teams deserve to be last place and next-to-last-place teams.

"I don't think that's the way it's going to end up," said Higgins.

MUST-WIN FOR ESKS

Rahim Abudullah, a Stampeder the past two seasons, sees this game for what it is for the Eskimos.

"You want to be looking in the rearview mirror at those guys. We lose this game, we're looking up at them. We're already 1-1 against Saskatchewan and 0-1 against B.C. We don't want to be 0-1 against Calgary."

Eskimos coach Danny Maciocia said he had no idea about the lack of history with the two teams being last and next-to-last.

"I guess that makes an interesting story. It's certainly not familiar territory for these two teams. But let's see what unfolds," he said.

OK. Maybe I should pull a Bryan Hall here. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.


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