Montreal Alouettes (8-10) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (10-8)

Sunday, November 10 at Noon et/9am pt on TSN

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Elder stateman and future Hall of Famer Henry Burris puts his 14 years of CFL experience up against impressive looking rookie Troy Smith and his three games of CFL experience.

On the home sideline will stand Henry Burris. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats 38-year-old QB has thrown 5,992 passes for 51,562 yards and 324 touchdowns over 14 CFL seasons.

Opposing him on the visitors sideline will be CFL rookie Troy Smith, he of three career starts and 142 passes.

This isn’t to suggest the Alouettes are doomed with their green quarterback. Far from it; Smith has never shrunken in the spotlight, having spent time in the NFL after a successful collegiate career at Ohio State where the now 29-year-old won three Bowl games and the Heisman Trophy in 2006. But the contrast at the quarterback position in the East Semi-Final is no doubt interesting: a surefire Hall of Famer in Burris facing a QB in Smith, tasked with replacing a legend in the injured Anthony Calvillo.


Firing Dan Hawkins five games into the season proved not to be the biggest obstacle the Alouettes had to overcome in the 2013 regular season. After face of the franchise Anthony Calvillo was lost for the season due to concussion in Week 8, Montreal was forced to scramble in finding a replacement (something they haven’t had to do in 20 years). The Alouettes went through two QBs before settling on Troy Smith late in the season. It’s too early to tell if he can become Calvillo’s full-time replacement, but he’s looked solid in his few starts to end the regular season and success in the playoffs would go a long way to securing his long-term future in Montreal.


Hamilton’s offence lost some of its explosiveness this season – in large part due to the Chris Williams contract squabble – but remained one of the most potent units in the league. The Tiger-Cats’ return to the post-season was in large part due to an improved offence. The secondary was much better with newcomers Delvin Breaux, Evan McCollough and Courtney Stephen joining the only returning member Dee Webb in totally revamping the back end. Torrey Davis and Brian Bulcke led a strong defensive line while even the shakeup at linebacker proved effective, with Simoni Lawrence and Rico Murray playing productive roles in Hamilton this season.

Burris and Smith of course never battle directly on the field, and that’s a good thing for Montreal as they have their own seasoned veteran and surefire Hall of Famer in Chip Cox leading their defensive efforts.

Hamilton’s offence is usually first class, but the unit is prone to major letdowns from time to time; their 35-6 blowout loss to Montreal in Week 17 comes to mind.

If Cox and the rest of the Als defence can emulate that performance, Montreal will have all but guaranteed a trip to the East Final in Toronto.

Hamilton’s defence meanwhile, an Achilles heel in past seasons, has been better this season. The secondary may be the biggest area of improvement and with Delvin Breaux (possibly) and Dee Webb back from injuries, could provide a real test for Smith in his first CFL post-season action.

Matt Dunigan's QB Analysis

Tiger-Cats: Head coach Kent Austin managed his quarterbacks wisely by removing the veteran Henry Burris from short yardage abuse and inserted a younger and talented rushing QB, Dan LeFevour. More...
Alouettes: Let me write about Jim Popp actively going out and doing something about the ups and downs that are intrinsic to our game. It's called managing! He stepped up in signing Troy Smith. More...

Power Rankings

This Week4Last Week4Hamilton Tiger-Cats10-8

Known in recent years for their penchant to finish at or around .500, the Tiger-Cats finished with their best record since 2001 at 10-8. Their next step will be navigating through the playoffs and advancing to the Grey Cup, something they haven’t done since winning the trophy in 1999.

This Week6Last Week6Montreal Alouettes8-10

The Alouettes finished below .500 and will have to win on the road if they’re to make the Grey Cup. But that’s not bad considering how they looked under now fired head coach Dan Hawkins in the first five games of the season. GM Jim Popp stepped in as interim head coach and steadied the ship enough for the Als to make the playoffs.

13 Sep 21 Montreal 26 at Hamilton 28 (In Moncton) Recap | Boxscore
17 Oct 20 Hamilton 5 at Montreal 36 Recap | Boxscore
18 Oct 26 Montreal 24 at Hamilton 27 Recap | Boxscore

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