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High-flying B.C. Lions look to stay undefeated against rested Ottawa Redblacks

Nathan Rourke has grabbed the early headlines this CFL season — and not simply because he’s a rare Canadian quarterback.

The 24-year-old from Victoria, B.C., powered the B.C. Lions (2-0) to a pair of lopsided victories to start the campaign and, last week, set a league record in the process.

Rourke threw for 436 yards and hit a new single-game record for passing yards by a Canadian QB as the Lions thumped the Toronto Argonauts 44-3.

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B.C. has scored 103 points this year, matching the most any CFL club has put up in the first two games of a season (Toronto, 1992).

While much of the attention has been on Rourke, the Lions’ defence has been solid, too, giving up just 18 points, including a single touchdown.

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B.C. will need both the offence and defence to click once again on Thursday as they take on the rested Redblacks in Ottawa.

Ottawa (0-2) is coming off a bye after dropping a 19-12 decision to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Week 2 action.

Redblacks QB Jeremiah Masoli is trying for a third-straight game with more than 300 passing yards. He’s hit the mark in six of his last eight starts dating back to his time with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last year.

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Ottawa will add a potent piece to the lineup this week with running back William Powell making his season debut. The 34-year-old Kansas State product missed the first two games with an Achilles injury but was a full participant in practice on Monday.

The Lions, meanwhile, will be without star receiver Bryan Burnham, who was added to the six-game injured list after suffering fractured ribs in Saturday’s win. He’ll be replaced in the lineup by Josh Pearson, a 25-year-old American who spent 2020 with the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Pick: B.C.

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Edmonton Elks at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Friday night)

It’s been a rough start to the season for both the Elks (0-3) and Tiger-Cats (0-3).

Hamilton’s Dane Evans leads the league in passing yards (884) but completed just 25 of 42 attempts in the Ticats 26-12 loss to the Blue Bombers last week.

Edmonton seemed to be trending in the right direction on Saturday, jumping out to a 10-point lead over the Stampeders before Calgary climbed back for a 30-23 victory.

Elks QB Nick Arbuckle threw for 226 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his return to Calgary, the city where he started his CFL career.

Pick: Edmonton

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Montreal Alouettes at Saskatchewan Roughriders (Saturday night)

The Roughriders (2-1) will look to exact some revenge in the back half of this home-and-home series.

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Last week, Montreal’s Trevor Harris started in place of Vernon Adams Jr. — who tested positive for COVID-19 — and threw for 262 yards and a TD, powering the Als to a 37-13 victory.

Montreal (1-2) limited Saskatchewan’s offence with eight sacks, three interceptions and five pass knock-downs. Riders QB Cody Fajardo will want to bounce back after connecting on 17 of 28 attempts for 191 yards in Week 3.

Pick: Saskatchewan

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Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Toronto Argonauts (Monday night)

The reigning Grey Cup champion Blue Bombers (3-0) are undefeated to start the season after posting a 26-12 win over the Ticats on Friday.

Winnipeg defensive lineman Willie Jefferson had a dominant outing, with three tackles, a sack and a pick-six — a performance that earned him a CFL top performer of the week nod.

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The Argos (1-1), meanwhile, are looking to recover from the ugly 44-3 loss they suffered in B.C. Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie called his team’s performance “embarrassing.”

Pick: Winnipeg

Last week: 3-1

Overall record: 11-1

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