Last year, Hamilton made impressive strides. After finishing out of the playoffs for several years in the generally anemic East Division they went 9-9 and finished second behind the 15-3 Montreal Alouettes. The season ended on a disappointing note with a loss at home to the B.C. Lions in the East semi-final, but overall 2009 was a positive year for the Tabbies.

Heading into 2010, CFL pundits wondered if they would be able to build on that success and mount a serious challenge to Montreal as the top team in the East. Thus far, that has not been the case. Following last week’s blow-out 37-14 loss to the Als in Montreal, they sit at 1-3. It’s still early, obviously, and while Montreal still looks untouchable in the East, the Ti-Cats have plenty of time to catch the surprising Toronto Argonauts, who currently sit second in the East with a 3-2 record.

Last season the Riders and Ti-Cats split their home-and-home series. On Aug. 16, the Green & White won 33-23 at Mosaic Stadium. In the Oct. 31 rematch in Hamilton, the Ti-Cats thumped the Riders 24-6 — although with a first-place showdown looming against the Stamps back in Regina the next week, the game was essentially meaningless for the Riders.

Given how the two teams have performed thus far in 2010, it’s hard to see how the Riders could possibly lose this game. If they do win, though, and Hamilton drops to 1-4, they can still get turn things around as next up for the Ti-Cats is a home-and-home series with the so-so Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Further down the road, the Riders will visit Ivor Wynne Stadium for a return engagement with the Ti-Cats on Sept. 25.

Kick-off today is at 4:30 p.m. With the game soldout, the blackout for TSN’s broadcast will be lifted.