Calgary Stampeders to take on the B.C. Lions without veteran starter Bo Levi Mitchell

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The Calgary Stampeders will chase their first win of the season without veteran starter Bo Levi Mitchell.

The Stampeders placed the two-time winner of the CFL's outstanding player award on the six-game injured list Tuesday with a broken fibula. Mitchell suffered the injury during Calgary's 23-20 season-opening loss to the Toronto Argonauts and attempted to play through it in last week's 15-9 defeat to the B.C. Lions.

As if Mitchell's injury isn't enough, up next for Calgary (0-2) on Friday night is a Montreal Alouettes squad that looked very good in its season-opening 30-13 road win over the Edmonton Elks last week.

Winning has become the norm in Calgary under Mitchell. The 31-year-old Texan became the Stampeders' starter in 2014 and led the franchise to four Grey Cup appearances, winning twice.

And Mitchell has amassed a stellar 77-20-2 record since coming to the CFL in 2012.

But the Stampeders' offence has looked out of sorts this season. Mitchell has just one touchdown pass and four interceptions, including four against B.C.

With Mitchell being sidelined., it would appear that Canadian quarterback Michael O’Connor will step in under centre. The 25-year-old Ottawa native is in his second CFL season, first with Calgary, after spending the 2019 campaign with Toronto.

The six-foot-five, 223-pound O'Connor guided the U.B.C. Thunderbirds to the 2015 Vanier Cup title. He dressed for nine games with the Argos and saw action in two, completing 15-of-25 passes for 173 yards and a TD.

If O'Connor does start, he'll become the second Canadian to do so this season. Nathan Rourke, a Victoria native who grew up in Oakville, Ont., started the B.C. Lions' season-opening 33-29 road loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Montreal held the ball for over 32 minutes against Edmonton, rushing for 154 yards on 29 carries (5.3-yard average). William Stanback anchored the ground game (112 yards on 18 carries) as Vernon Adams threw for 211 yards and two TDs.

Pick: Montreal.


Edmonton Elks versus B.C. Lions (Thursday night)

At Vancouver, Michael Reilly is slated to start for B.C. (1-1). Last week against Calgary, Reilly threw for 342 yards as both Bryan Burnham (121) and Willie Whitehead (108) had over 100 yards receiving. It's an important game for Edmonton (0-2), which will be without Canadian defensive lineman Kwaku Boateng (COVID-19 protocols).

Pick: B.C.


Winnipeg Blue Bombers versus Toronto Argonauts (Saturday afternoon)

At Toronto, Nick Arbuckle gets his first-ever start with the Argos (1-1). Arbuckle relieved veteran McLeod Bethel-Thompson in the second half of last week's 20-7 road loss to Winnipeg (2-0), completing 10-of-19 passed for 96 yards and an interception. The Bombers have been very solid to start the season, especially on defence with having forced seven turnovers thus far.

Pick: Winnipeg.


Ottawa Redblacks versus Saskatchewan Roughriders (Saturday night)

At Regina, there's no place like home as the Riders (2-0) will play their third straight contest at Mosaic Stadium. Saskatchewan leads the CFL in offensive points scored (28.5 per game) and offensive touchdowns (six) while having also forced eight turnovers and registered eight sacks _ both league best marks. Ottawa (1-0) comes off the bye but will face a tough task here.

Pick: Saskatchewan.

Last week: 2-2

Overall: 3-5.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 18, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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