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KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

EDMONTON -- This one might be over before the anthem singer finishes the last note.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have struggled mightily this season, and they're 19 1/2-point underdogs, but that's not the reason why the Edmonton Eskimos should build an early cushion tonight at Commonwealth Stadium.

It's more specific than that.

The Eskimos have outscored their opponents 27-1 in the first quarter this season en route to a 2-1 record.

The Bombers, meanwhile, have been outscored 38-0 in the first quarter during their 0-3 start.

When Edmonton smacked Winnipeg around Canad Inns Stadium two weeks ago in its 27-8 victory, the Eskimos led 10-0 after 15 minutes.

The Blue and Gold might want to borrow Paul Tracy's Champ car to get off to a faster start tonight.

Otherwise, the spinning of their tires will continue.

Here's a closer look at tonight's clash:

KEEP AN EYE ON

Winnipeg KR Keith Stokes, No. 3

Let's face it: The way the Bomber offence is humming (or should we say upchucking?) Winnipeg's special teams need to be cooking for it to have any hope in Hades tonight against high-flying Ricky Ray. Edmonton allowed two special teams touchdowns last week in Montreal, so it's going to be better prepared. When -- or if -- Stokes does get the ball, he better make something happen.

REMEMBER WHEN?

the Bombers put up a mighty fight but fell 40-34 to the Eskimos last October at Commonwealth Stadium? The setback knocked Winnipeg out of the playoffs, and Edmonton got a post-season berth. A block on a Jon Ryan punt midway through the fourth quarter set up an Eskimo touchdown that put the game out of reach.

KICKOFF

8 p.m.; TSN/CJOB.

THE LINE

Edmonton is favoured by 19 1/2 points.

ALL-TIME SERIES

Edmonton leads 86-72. There have been two ties.

LAST MEETING

QB Ricky Ray threw for 469 yards and two touchdowns as the Eskimos walloped the Bombers 27-8 on June 30 at Canad Inns Stadium. The game was Winnipeg QB Tee Martin's CFL debut, and it showed, as he completed just 12 of 29 passes for 107 yards and also served up an interception.

QUIRKY FACT

It was 22 years ago today that the Bombers rolled into Commonwealth Stadium and edged the Eskimos 20-18 in their season and home opener. Edmonton went on to post a 9-9 season, and its five-year reign as Grey Cup champion came to an end.

THE FINAL SAY

"If you take a look at after three weeks what we've done offensively, as far as the so-called numbers are concerned, a lot of that credit should go to Ronnie."

-- Eskimos head coach Danny Maciocia, talking about his offensive co-ordinator, Ron Lancaster Jr., who had the same role last year in Winnipeg.


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