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Stampeders prepare to host Roughriders in CFL's West Division final

11/10/2013 10:14 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:53 EST
CALGARY - John Hufnagel insists he didn't prefer one opponent over the other for the CFL's West Division final.

But the coach of the Calgary Stampeders acknowledges the atmosphere at McMahon Stadium will be more electric next Sunday because it's the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

"It will be an exciting stadium on Sunday," Hufnagel said Sunday. "It will be capacity or close to capacity because we're playing Saskatchewan."

A 25-29 win over the B.C. Lions in Sunday's division semifinal sends the Roughriders to Calgary, where so many Saskatchewan expats reside.

The Stampeders represent the final hurdle the Roughriders must clear to play in their own Grey Cup in Regina on Nov. 24.

Calgary had the best record in the league at 14-4 this season. The Roughriders finished second in the West Division at 11-7.

The Toronto Argonauts, who topped the East Division at 11-7, will host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats who went 10-8, in that division final next Sunday.

"The four best teams, statistically with win-loss records, they're playing each other for the right to play in the big one," Hufnagel said. "It's very fitting."

Hufnagel says he'll start veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn against Saskatchewan. The Stampeders went 10-3 in games the 33-year-old Glenn started this season.

Glenn was replaced by Drew Tate halfway through an Oct. 26 win against the Roughriders. The following week, Glenn, Tate and Bo Levi Mitchell all struggled to generate offence in a 26-7 loss to the Lions in the regular-season finale.

"Take away the last game, because the Calgary Stampeders really didn't show up to play it, Kevin had two quarters where he had a difficult time," Hufnagel said. "The bulk of the work he's done throughout the season, it's not going to disrupt my thoughts about who should be playing and starting this playoff game."

The Weather Network's long-range forecast for Calgary predicts flurries, a high of minus-3 and a north wind at 20 kilometres per hour on game day.

"I'm not concerned about the weather the day of the game," Hufnagel said. "The concern is wind, not temperature. Wind can really affect a game.

"It looks like for the week's practice, we will have decent weather to practise, which is fantastic. Truthfully I'm concerned about practice days and being able to keep our players' attention, practice fast and have good practices leading up to the game."

Calgary went 2-1 versus Saskatchewan this season and won both games at McMahon Stadium. Prior to their Oct. 26 meeting, defensive end Charleston Hughes and Roughrider running back Kory Sheets taunted each other on social media.

Hufnagel believes the high stakes for this game may tone down the trash talking.

"I think that game three weeks ago was a different animal altogether than this game," the head coach said. "Now we're playing for win-or-go home type of situation.

"I will have a little talk with my team. Hopefully it will be an unnecessary talk. Whatever happens, that's all fringe. We're very excited about playing this Western final, playing against Saskatchewan, a very good football team and 60 minutes later, let's see who is the best team."

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