After three weeks of Big Ten rugby, some teams have already reached the half way point of their 2016 seasons. Others benefited from early bye weeks and still have four matches ahead of them. The short six game season makes for a very unforgiving path to the championship where each win, try and conversion counts come the final whistle on what will surely be a frigid mid-November day.
As it stands, Indiana, having played three games, leads the conference with 15 points. Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin, who all took advantage of bye weeks, share second place with 10 points each. All four teams have collected bonus points from their first games.
After two matches and a bye week, Illinois and Minnesota have each secured one of two and now hold the middle of the table. Iowa, Michigan State, and Purdue have all faced-off against D1A Top 20 teams and have yet to find their first win after three games, but will look to prove themselves in the second half of the season.
The large scoring games have allowed for key playmakers to produce impressive individual performances. Indiana’s veteran wing Jacob Hidalgo leads the conference with six tries. Indiana teammates, Tyler Sousley and Tyler Graham, and Ohio State’s eight man Nathaniel Heister have all put away five tries, holding second place for the moment. In third place, Indiana’s Teddy Terezis and Alexander Dorrier, Ohio State’s Jaime Barlow and Wisconsin’s Dane Fleck each have bagged four tries. Teddy Terezis’s 29 conversions helped make the Indiana fly-half the stand out total points leader, contributing 79 points to the 3 Hoosier victories. Ohio State’s freshman phenom Nathaniel Heister has earned our attention scoring five tries in his first two games as a Buckeye and will certainly be one to watch in the second half of the season.
The top three teams in the Big Ten, #5 Indiana, #20 Ohio State and #19 Wisconsin, have dominated thus far, boasting point differentials of 232, 118 and 120 respectively. These three ranked D1A Top 20 teams have raised the level of play in the conference. All Big Ten teams implement new systems of play each year to be able to compete in the conference. This can only mean that the conference as a whole will see steady improvement over the coming years.
While there have been no big upsets thus far in the conference, many teams will battle intensely to earn their place on championship day. The second half of the season promises many exciting matchups between the top seated teams who will have to prove they deserve to be in the Big Ten final.