The 2019 playoff bracket has been confirmed with all 16 teams now knowing their journey to Santa Clara. Overall, there were little surprises to the bracket, but there were several shakeups to the rankings in the final weeks of the season.
In the East, reigning National Champions, Life University, took the number one seed after completing the regular season undefeated. Their opponent in the first round will be Penn State, setting up a rematch of their regular season finale. Penn State, gave Life a scare early in their last go around; however, the Running Eagles were able to fire back and land a convincing victory, 53-24. With two weeks to prepare for their next match, it will be interesting to see what adjustments are made by both sides.
The second seed went to Army, after being the next highest ranked conference winner out of the East. Army will play Arkansas State, a team they have not yet faced this year. It will be an exciting fixture, with both teams showing promise throughout the year. While they have not played each other this year yet, they have played some of the same teams, Lindenwood and Navy. Army dropped both of these fixtures; while Arkansas State were able to wrangle a victory against Lindenwood. Two evenly matched teams should produce a tight affair.
Wisconsin claimed the third seed and will take on Lindenwood. The Lions come into the playoffs, on the heels of, by their standards, an inconsistent season. At times the men from Missouri looked like they could be the best in the country and others they showed signs of a team which could bow out earlier than anticipated in the playoffs. However, they have a tremendous amount of experience, which will help them over a Wisconsin side making their first appearance in the playoffs.
The final automatic qualifier in the East was Oklahoma and they will play a Navy squad brimming with confidence as they enter the playoffs. Both teams’ strengths lie in the forwards, which sets up a bruising encounter. Oklahoma’s scrum dominated all season long and helped them claim the Red River title, however, they’ll need to be flexible in their game plan when they come up against a pack as strong up front.
Cal, after beating Saint Mary’s yesterday, reclaimed the top seed in the West, and as a result will face off against UC Davis, the 8th seed. This will be their second meeting of the year and UC Davis will be hoping it goes better than their loss back in January.
Saint Mary’s come in as the second seed, after suffering their first defeat of the year. Their opponent will be their California Confernce compatriot, Grand Canyon. The last time these two came across each other’s paths, Saint Mary’s landed a victory. With this edition being played in Moraga, the Gaels will like their chances of advancing through to the next round.
BYU, will be the third seed in the West and they will play UCLA. The Cougars, after putting together one of the more dominant runs through their conference schedule, struggled this fall against some stronger opposition. A strong showing against a promising UCLA side could get them back on track.
The Arizona, narrowly beat out Central Washington for the fourth seed and will now get to host the men from Ellensburg, down in Tucson. Both sides are well balanced with forward packs that can achieve good go forward and fly halves that conduct the flow of their offensive traffic with precision. The key, likely, for this game will be each team’s work around the breakdowns. Whoever can wreak the most havoc on the defensive side of the breakdown to disrupt the quick ball opportunities will likely walk away victors.
- Life vs. Penn State 12pm ET
- Army vs. Arkansas State 12 pm ET
- Wisconsin vs. Lindenwood 2pm ET
- Oklahoma vs. Navy 2pm ET
- BYU vs. UCLA 4pm ET
- Arizona vs. Central Washington 4pm ET
- Cal vs. UC Davis 4pm ET
- Saint Mary’s vs. Grand Canyon 6pm ET