Underdog Argos will only be pleased with win

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:02 PM ET

TORONTO - Underdogs, yes.

But don’t tell the Argonauts they don’t have as much to lose as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division semifinal on Sunday at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Put it this way — in their minds, achieving a 9-9 record in the regular season will mean little if they leave Ivor Wynne with no more football to play in 2010.

“You have more reason to get fired up than you have had all year, and all you have to do is win one to continue going,” slotback Jeremaine Copeland said after practice on Wednesday. “Nobody knows what to expect of us, but you have to love that.”

The Ticats were supposed to be in the playoffs, but few figured they and the Argos would wind up with the same record. And no matter what the Argos say, they still can view this season as a positive leap forward if they fall on Sunday. Not so much the Ticats, who lost a year ago when they played host to the B.C. Lions in a crossover playoff game.

“It’s a playoff game and there is pressure, and for them, maybe there is more,” Argos head coach Jim Barker said, “because they were in it last year and this team has not been there in three years. I don’t know if that plays into it.

“I’m sure we will be the underdog. They have beaten us three times and we are playing at their place. It does not matter to me.”

It has been well-documented that the Argos were swept 3-0 by their arch-rivals during the regular season, and turnovers were a key factor in the losses, especially the first two. The Argos also averaged nine penalties a game during the Ticats.

Barker spent time on Wednesday stressing to his players what he has done all year — that taking penalties and giving the ball away can lead to doom. They’re going to have to be extra careful this weekend, as they had 15 more giveaways (57) on interceptions, fumbles and downs this season than they had takeaways (42). The Ticats, on the other hand, had 54 takeaways as opposed to 44 giveaways.

“To say there is less pressure on us, no, because we both want to win,” Argos safety Willie Pile said. “We both want to play in Montreal next week (in the East final) for a chance to play for it all.”

And in Barker’s mind, what people might be thinking outside the locker room isn’t keeping him up at night.

“We are very confident,” Barker said. “You guys probably aren’t, but that’s okay. I think our locker room is very confident about the game.”


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