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Football Calgary Stampeders find themselves back atop West

Calgary Stampeders running back Tory Harrison celebrates his touchdown while playing against the Saskatchewan Roughriders during the second half of their CFL football game in Regina, Saskatchewan August 22, 2015. The Stampeders won the game 34-31.

DAVID STOBBE/REUTERS

Don't look now but the defending Grey Cup champions are all alone atop the West Division standings.

The Calgary Stampeders assumed sole possession of first with a 34-31 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week while the Edmonton Eskimos (5-3) were on the losing end of a 49-20 home decision to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Calgary (6-2) faces the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Saturday night and heads into weekend action tied with Hamilton and Toronto for the best record in the CFL.

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Bo Levi Mitchell, the MVP of last year's Grey Cup game, threw three touchdown passes against Saskatchewan to lead Calgary to a third straight victory. His 32-yard strike to Tory Harrison early in the fourth quarter broke a 24-24 tie.

Calgary receiver Eric Rogers is on a roll, having registered a TD in six straight contests. He also has 39 catches for a league-best 660 yards and seven touchdowns overall.

Calgary has shown a penchant for winning close games. Five of their victories have come by a combined 13 points, including one-point decisions over Hamilton (24-23 to open the season) and Winnipeg (26-25 on July 18).

Offensively, Calgary stands third overall in scoring (27.4 points per game).

Not surprising, the Stampeders are a stellar 5-0 at McMahon Stadium but also 2-0 within the West Division. However, Calgary is just 1-2 on the road so far this season.

Defensive end Charleston Hughes has also regained his status as an elite pass rusher. He stands tied for the league lead in sacks (six) and forced fumbles (two).

Robert Marve will make his second straight start at quarterback for Winnipeg (3-5), which comes off the bye tied for third in the West Division standings with B.C. Marve was 18-of-29 passing for 203 yards with a TD and interception in his CFL debut, a 27-20 home loss to Toronto that it won by outscoring the Bombers 13-3 in the final quarter.

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Marve also ran four times for 37 yards.

Points have been at a premium this season for Winnipeg, which is ranked second-last in scoring with a 20-point average. Defensively, the Bombers are eighth overall in points allowed (29.6) but did a nice job holding Toronto quarterback Trevor Harris to just 168 yards passing.

Pick — Calgary.

Montreal Alouettes versus Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Thursday night.

Hamilton (6-2) has won 10 straight at Tim Hortons Field, including a 40-24 victory over Montreal (3-5) in the '14 East Division final. The Ticats have won five straight overall and are excelling in all three phases of the game, having outscored their last three visiting opponents 124-48. Alouettes GM Jim Popp makes his first appearance on the sidelines this season after head coach Tom Higgins was fired following last weekend's 23-13 road win over B.C.

Pick — Hamilton.

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Toronto Argonauts versus Edmonton Eskimos, Friday night.

Toronto (6-2) heads west on a short week — it beat Ottawa 30-24 at home Sunday — and should expect to face an ornery Edmonton (5-3) squad coming off a lopsided 49-20 home loss to Hamilton. The Argos beat the Eskimos 26-11 at Fort McMurray. Alta., in the season opener for both teams. Rookie James Franklin starts at quarterback for the home team despite suffering a lung contusion versus the Ticats.

Pick — Edmonton.

Saskatchewan Roughriders versus Ottawa Redblacks, Sunday afternoon.

It Saskatchewan (0-8) didn't have back luck, it wouldn't have any luck at all. Six of its losses have been by four or less points. Combined, those six defeats have been by 19 points. Ottawa (4-4) has dropped two straight but quarterback Henry Burris was 32-of-36 passing for 428 yards Sunday in Toronto. Earnest Jackson had six catches for 114 yards while James Ellingson finished with four receptions for 110 yards, but Ottawa took 20 penalties for 228 yards.

Pick — Saskatchewan.

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Last week: 4-0.

Overall: 21-15.

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