Confidence game

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

So they beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Big deal, you might say.

You would be right.

If the Winnipeg Blue Bombers are going to make some hay in the soft part of their schedule -- and really gain some confidence -- they will want to beat the Ottawa Renegades tonight at Canad Inns Stadium for their third straight home victory.

The Renegades, who many across the country picked to finish dead last in the East Division, are no worse than tied for first in the loop today with a 5-3 mark.

The Renegades are also riding a three-game winning streak, although it should be noted that those triumphs came against the free-falling Saskatchewan Roughriders (twice) and hapless Hamilton.

Ottawa has also beaten the Montreal Alouettes at home (Winnipeg did that as well), and they hammered the snot out of the Calgary Stampeders, whom the Bombers have failed to beat on two occasions this season.

A Bomber loss would send them back to square one with a putrid 2-7 record.

As for the Renegades, a loss to the lowly Bombers would be a blow to their emerging confidence.

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

KEEP AN EYE ON

Winnipeg RB Charles Roberts, No. 1

The league's rushing leader, with 662 yards on 117 carries, has played the Renegades six times in his career, but he has eclipsed 100 yards only once. He will need to at least get close to the century mark if the Bombers are going to dish out a balanced attack like the one they delivered last Saturday against the Tiger-Cats.

REMEMBER WHEN?

The Renegades rolled into Canad Inns Stadium on opening night last year and hammered the Bombers 37-25? It was supposed to be the grand kickoff to a year of redemption for the Blue and Gold. Instead, Renegades QB Kerry Joseph hit Yo Murphy with a 74-yard touchdown toss, and the Bombers began 2004 on the wrong foot. It was a sign of bad things to come.

ESSENTIALS

KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. at Canad Inns Stadium; TV/RADIO: None, CJOB; THE LINE: Ottawa is favoured by 2 1/2 points; ALL-TIME SERIES: Winnipeg leads 4-2 since 2002.

LAST MEETING

The Bombers responded from their home-opening loss by waltzing into Frank Clair Stadium last July 16 and whipping the Renegades 29-1. Bombers starter Khari Jones got the hook and was replaced by Kevin Glenn, but the Blue and Gold defence was the star of the show. Terry Ray had the highlight of the night when he drilled Pat Woodcock so hard with a hit over the middle that the Renegades receiver threw up on the field. Also, Bombers DE Tom Canada knocked Renegades QB Kerry Joseph out of the game and out of the lineup for a while thanks to a first-half sack.

QUIRKY FACT

Renegades LB Gerald Vaughn has 27 career interceptions, and almost a quarter of them -- six -- have come against the Bombers.

THE FINAL SAY

"He's probably one of the best running backs in the league, and he's a quarterback."

-- Bombers DT Doug Brown, discussing mobile Renegades QB Kerry Joseph.


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