ESPN2 will have another battle of undefeateds, the final one for 2014, which is also the Battle of Alberta.
The early game on Saturday is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats home opener. This would normally be joyous news, but Tim Hortons Field isn't ready yet. Instead the Ticats will make their home debut at Ron Joyce Stadium as they host the RedBlacks.
The nightcap on Saturday sees Saskatchewan trying for revenge against Toronto. The only Argos win is against the Roughriders at Rogers Centre. The teams meet in Regina on ESPN2.
Winnipeg tries to bounce back at Vancouver in the lone Friday night game. The Lions are on a roll themselves, having won 2 straight games.
The Alouettes get a bye and spend that time wondering how they lost by 36 points in Vancouver. And where their offense went. Troy Smith was a whole lot better last year.
Calgary @ Edmonton, 9p (TSN simulcast)
Toronto @ Saskatchewan, 10p (TSN simulcast)
Calgary @ Edmonton, 9p
Winnipeg @ BC, 10p
Ottawa @ Hamilton, 7p
Toronto @ Saskatchewan, 10p
The ESPN schedule says the channel has switched the July 31 telecast back to ESPN3. The CFL has taken the game down off its U.S. TV schedule.
Yet ESPN2 promoted the game (see video capture above) in Hamilton as still being on ESPN. The graphic listed the telecast as an upcoming game on ESPN.
ESPN now has a CFL bumper that ran several times during the two telecasts. The end tagline: "Follow the journey all season long on ESPN." We see the logos stacked up of ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and WatchESPN. No ESPNews on the list.
We'll be curious if the CFL bumper turns up in non-CFL programming on the ESPN family.
We also saw elaborate halftime and postgame CFL coverage produced by ESPN and hosted by Doug Kezirian.
Kezirian was pretty good and certainly enthusiastic about the CFL. A couple of miscues to note: he said this game was the first of the season on ESPN2 (first for him, not the channel). When they showed the highlight of Edmonton's Odell Willis intercepting a Blue Bombers pass, he noted that Winnipeg was threatening (hard to do deep in your own territory). Still, Kezirian seemed really happy to be hosting the CFL updates, so we appreciate his energy.
On Thursday, we got a TSN feature of the "CFL in ATL" how Milt Stegall hosts CFL players in offseason workouts in Atlanta.
Friday's segment was a Bob Holtzman interview with Chad Johnson in Montréal. The segment ran on SportsCenter on Thursday and on the ESPN2 coverage on Friday. The segment showed a different Chad Johnson in his new life in the CFL in Montréal.
U.S. viewers didn't see Milt Stegall's interview with Chad Johnson, but the 3 Downs segment in the halftime of the Ottawa-Edmonton game revealed that Stegall ate poutine with Johnson. Stegall initially denied eating poutine but the video evidence proved otherwise.
My initial guess proved correct: the poutine was from La Banquise.
Two of the CFL players that are the most fun to watch are Chad Owens and Jon Cornish. Unfortunately, they won't be back anytime soon.
Cornish suffered a concussion in the opening game and hasn't been back since. The Calgary Stampeders placed Cornish on the 6-game injury list this week. So he would be eligible to return on September 6 when Calgary goes north to Edmonton.
Owens will be out at least another 2 weeks, perhaps more, with a foot injury.
Matt Dunigan worked the Thursday night game of Edmonton at Winnipeg. Turns out this was around the 20-year anniversary of Dunigan's amazing night of passing for Winnipeg against Edmonton.
On July 14, 1994, Dunigan went 33/52 for 713 yards and 5 TDs. Dunigan blew away the previous mark set in 1993 of 601 passing yards by 112 yards.
Dunigan said during Thursday's telecast that he should have had 850 yards that night. He finished strong with 625 passing yards in the last 3 quarters.
As much as we complain about the TV coverage in the States, this record-setting game wasn't televised in Canada either. The CBC has exclusive rights back then.
Dunigan worked the game in Winnipeg with Gord Miller. The schedule worked out that the #3 team got to call the game of undefeated teams. Miller allows the colour guy to shine, and Dunigan is a lot better at calling games. Though if I had to drink a shot every time Dunigan said "iso," I would have been legally drunk long before the end of the first half.
Glen Suitor worked with Chris Cuthbert in Ottawa Friday night and Vancouver Saturday night. Rod Black, who worked with Duane Forde in Calgary Friday, called the game in B.C. on Saturday. Black's flight was a lot shorter than Suitor's trip.
Traveling to the West Coast isn't easy, especially with a local 4 pm kickoff Saturday night in Vancouver.
screen grab: ESPN2