NEWS
11/09/2011 07:21 EST | Updated 01/09/2012 05:12 EST

Stamps' Brian Bulcke prepares for first playoff game of CFL career

CALGARY - Calgary Stampeders' defensive lineman Brian Bulcke expects to battle nerves and emotions heading into his first career CFL playoff game Sunday against Edmonton.

"If you want the step by step I would say Thursday you start getting butterflies, Friday you start getting restless, by Saturday you can barely sleep and Sunday you are puking before pre-game," he predicted Wednesday.

But the 24-year-old from Windsor, Ont., is thrilled his family can watch him on television, which they couldn't during his four seasons of college football with the Stanford Cardinal.

"My entire family can watch me play. I haven't had that in years playing out on the West Coast," Bulcke said. "Go make a play for grandma."

The Stampeders face the Eskimos in the West Division semifinal Sunday at Commonwealth Stadium (TSN, 4:30 ET). The winner heads to Vancouver for the West final versus the B.C. Lions on Nov. 20. The loser is done for the season.

The Montreal Alouettes host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East semifinal (TSN, 1 p.m. ET), with the victor gaining a berth in the division final against Winnipeg.

B.C., Edmonton and Calgary all finished the regular season tied at 11-7. The Stampeders ranked third because Calgary lost their regular-season series to the Lions and Eskimos.

Bulcke and the Cardinal beat Virgina Tech 40-12 in this year's Orange Bowl, so the six-foot-four, 285-pound lineman does have some big-game experience on which to draw for Sunday.

"My position coach back at Stanford, Randy Hart, he once told me something really wise. 'When you approach a big game, you can't do anything different,'" he said. "It's really about doing a lot of the great things we've been doing the last couple of weeks, especially on the defensive line. We've been coming together a lot.

"By focusing on the game, you can take a lot of that mental and emotional stress away."

Bulke was actually Eskimos property before they traded his rights to Calgary for a second-round draft pick in May. Edmonton drafted him sixth overall in 2010.

Bulcke spent a few weeks trying out for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers this summer. He joined the Stampeders after he was released on Sept. 3.

He didn't arrive in Calgary until after their home-and-home series against Edmonton, so he'll face the CFL team that drafted him for the first time Sunday.

"It will be an interesting first appearance in Edmonton," Bulcke said. "Maybe a little different than they planned."

While Bulcke hadn't played three-down football in several years, he was a starting defensive tackle by his third game with Calgary. He had 11 tackles and a sack in eight games.

"He's really been a solid anchor in the defensive line," Calgary head coach and general manager John Hufnagel said. "Very seldom does he make an assignment mistake. He understands the game thoroughly and he does what we ask him to do."

Bulcke has a game-day plan to manage his playoff jitters.

"It's like a controlled chaos," he explained. "You kind of want to bring yourself to the brink and then about five minutes before you step on the field, let it roar.

"You've got five minutes to re-focus, get on your assignment and by the time you take the first step on the field, you're emotionally high but pretty level-headed, which is kind of the key."