B.C. Lions veteran quarterback Travis Lulay will start Thursday night at home against the visiting Montreal Alouettes. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

Veteran Travis Lulay back as B.C. Lions’ starter against Montreal Alouettes

Travis Lulay and the B.C. Lions have had plenty of time to ponder what’s ailing the CFL team.

B.C. (5-5) returns to action Thursday night at home against the Montreal Alouettes (3-7). The Lions have been off since a 31-24 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks on Aug. 26.

Lulay replaced starter Jonathon Jennings in the second half of that game with B.C. trailing 31-3. Lulay rallied the Lions to within 31-24 but a late interception preserved the victory for the Grey Cup-champion Redblacks.

The loss was B.C.’s third straight and fourth in five games. But after completing 18 of 23 passes for 202 yards and two TDs, Lulay secured the start against Montreal, which has also dropped three straight.

Lulay’s two-yard TD run broke a 16-16 tie and led B.C. past Montreal 23-16 on July 6 at Molson Stadium. The following week, Jennings suffered a shoulder injury against Hamilton. Lulay came off the bench to throw for a record 436 yards and three TDs to lead the Lions to a 41-26 victory.

Lulay guided B.C. to a 3-1 record during Jennings’ absence. Jennings returned under centre for a 41-8 loss to Saskatchewan on Aug. 11 to kick off the Lions’ three-game losing streak.

Jennings struggled over that stretch, throwing seven interceptions with just two TD strikes.

B.C. is a stellar 14-3 at home against Montreal since 2000. While the Alouettes have two of the East Division’s three wins this season versus West Division teams, they’re a dismal 0-4 on the road this season.

Despite the off-season acquisition of quarterback Darian Durant, the Alouettes have struggled offensively. They’re ranked second-last in offensive points (19.1 per game), net offence (346.1 yards), passing (265.3) and interceptions (11).

What’s more, Montreal hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown in two of its last three games.

Durant will become Montreal’s fifth different starter in B.C. over the last six years. The Als’ last win at B.C. Place was a 23-13 decision on Aug. 20, 2015 and of the 44 players on their roster that game, only 15 were in last week’s lineup against Ottawa (a whopping 66 per cent turnover).

Prediction: B.C.

Saskatchewan Roughriders versus Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Saturday afternoon)

Saskatchewan (5-4) has won five of its last seven games and three straight, including last week’s 38-24 decision over Winnipeg (7-3). Kevin Glenn threw for 386 yards and three TDs while Duron Carter, Roosevelt Naaman and Bakari Grant all had 100-yard receiving efforts. Matt Nichols had 364 passing yards and two TDs for the Bombers, who are 3-1 at Investors Group Field, while the Riders are 1-3 on the road. The winner also takes the season series.

Prediction: Winnipeg.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats versus Ottawa Redblacks (Saturday night)

Finally a win for Hamilton (1-8), coming off a 24-22 decision over Toronto on Monday night. But it wasn’t pretty as starter Jeremiah Masoli was just 19 of 33 passing for 219 yards and a TD and the Ticats’ offence mustered 276 net yards. Ottawa (4-6-1) has won three straight, including a convincing 32-4 decision over Montreal last week. CFL passing leader Trevor Harris threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns while the Redblacks’ defence had five sacks, a forced fumble and interception.

Prediction: Ottawa.

Calgary Stampeders versus Edmonton Eskimos (Saturday night)

Calgary (8-1-1) looks to sweep the home-and-home series with Edmonton (7-3) for the fifth time in six years and has won the Labour Day rematch at Commonwealth Stadium nine times in 10 years. The Stampeders’ 39-18 win Monday was their 15th straight victory at McMahon Stadium and sixth overall. What’s more, the defending West champions have a league-best 3-1-1 road record. The Eskimos have lost three straight but received some good news Wednesday when all-star receiver Derel Walker rejoined the squad.

Prediction: Calgary.

Last week: 3-1.

Overall: 32-12-1.

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