CALGARY - The Saskatchewan Roughriders' first visit to McMahon Stadium this CFL season comes at a crucial time for the club.
The Grey Cup finalist the last two seasons is in danger of missing the playoffs.
Saskatchewan (4-8) needs the win Saturday a lot more than Calgary (7-5), although the Stampeders would argue after losing three of their last four they want the victory just as much.
"Unfortunately we dug ourselves into a pretty steep hole with the way we started the season, but anything can happen in this league and there's six weeks left," Roughrider quarterback Darian Durant said Friday. "We're not out of this thing mathematically and we still have a shot."
Both teams are coming off demoralizing losses in Week 13. Saskatchewan fell 42-5 to B.C. and Calgary dropped a 55-36 decision to Hamilton in Touchdown Atlantic in Moncton.
The Roughriders draw on what positives they can heading into Saturday's game (TSN, 4 p.m. ET). They've won three of four since Greg Marshall was fired and Ken Miller resumed head coaching duties.
Under Miller, Saskatchewan has beaten Calgary in the West Division final at McMahon two consecutive years.
"We haven't had the greatest success against them in the playoffs, so it would be nice to sort of keep them from getting there," Calgary running back Jon Cornish said.
While 'Rider Nation is present across CFL cities, they're especially prevalent in Calgary where the number of green jerseys in the stands rival red on game day. There were autograph seekers outside McMahon while Saskatchewan conducted their walk-through on the field Friday.
"By this time, we've usually been out here at least once or twice," Durant said. "But it's good to come out here when the season is changing and get a little cool air out here. When it gets cool, that's when our 'Rider Nation stands up so we're looking forward to having them out here in full force tomorrow."
Calgary wants to give its own fans more to cheer about at McMahon, where its 2-4. The Stampeders won both games in Regina earlier this season and host the 'Riders both Saturday and Oct. 21.
"We've got them two more times, but it's an opportunity for us to bury the 'Riders because they're holding onto a slim playoff spot now as far as their chances," Calgary quarterback Henry Burris said.
"There's so many big things riding on this game for us, but the most important part is to get back in sync, the way we want to be playing going into the final month of the season. September wasn't a good month for us, only winning one game."
It's been a tense week for the Stamps as head coach John Hufnagel publicly questioned his team's mental toughness after the loss in Moncton. Calgary has given up 52 points in turnovers in its last four games, compared to 14 in its first eight. The Stamps also lead the league in penalty yards (1,169).
"The amount of turnovers we have and the undisciplined play have led to the reasons why we haven't won," Hufnagel said. "In both of those categories, I believe it is a mental thing."
Hufnagel's decision to make running back Joffrey Reynolds a healthy scratch in Moncton raised eyebrows. The 30-year-old was the CFL's top rusher in 2008 and 2009, although Reynolds is averaging a career-low 4.8 yards per carry this season.
Eyebrows are disappearing into hairlines with Hufnagel's decision to keep Reynolds on the sidelines again Saturday.
Cornish, a non-import who had 84 yards on nine carries in Moncton, will get the majority of carries Saturday. LaMarcus Coker's 75-yard touchdown run in Moncton — the longest in the league this season — came on his first carry in a CFL game. That play likely kept the 25-year-old from going back onto Calgary's practice roster.
"If I would have went out there and didn't really make a difference, there would be no reason to keep sitting Joffrey," Coker said. "That's a Hall of Fame player. You just don't sit him for nothing."
Coke said Hamilton linebacker Renauld Williams asked him "No. 41. Who are you?" in Moncton just prior to his scoring run.
"I showed him," Coker said. "We actually didn't exchange any more words, but I think he'll remember my name from here on out."
Roughrider receiver Andy Fantuz will not play Saturday because of a high-ankle sprain. The CFL's outstanding Canadian player last season practised in Regina this week, but not well enough for Miller.
"I think it's in his best interest to have another few days of rest and another full week of practice before he plays," Miller said.
Notes: Saskatchewan will have defensive back Lance Frazier back in the lineup. He sat out last Saturday's game with a hamstring injury . . . The Stampeders have agreed to a six-year extension with QR77 Radio, which will broadcast games until the end of the 2017 season . . . The Stampeders and Salvation Army are asking fans to bring new or gently-used coats or make a cash donation in the annual coat drive Saturday.