Big Ten Season Culminates with Championship Weekend in Elkhart, IN

D1A Rugby: Big Ten Season Culminates with Championship Weekend in Elkhart, IN
Photo Credit: ClarkstonPhotography

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – It’s the most exciting weekend of the Big Ten 15s season and all the teams will travel to Elkhart, IN to play their final matches and determine their final conference ranking. Both the third place playoff pitting Michigan against Wisconsin and the BTU Championship match featuring Indiana and Ohio State will stream live on The Rugby Chanel.

7th-Place Playoff- Michigan State vs. Purdue (9:00 a.m. ET)Both Michigan State and Purdue only managed a single victory this year, ending the regular season in seventh and eighth place, respectively, with 6 points each. Last year, Michigan State were dominant in their 5th place match against Illinois and routed the Fighting Illini 68-10. The Spartans will be disappointed not being able to play for fifth place as they did last year but will still want to cap of their season off with another win.

Purdue defeated Iowa 52-26 in the battle between eighth and ninth place during the 2015 playoff weekend. The Boilermakers, despite recording 4 losses, ended the season on a high note beating Minnesota 22-12 and forcing a draw against Illinois, 10-10. Purdue will plan to continue their stretch of good performances.

During this past fall season, Michigan State defeated Purdue on October 8th 25-8. Let’s see how the two matchup this weekend.

5th-Place Playoff- Illinois vs. Minnesota (12:30 a.m. ET)
Illinois was in the fifth place playoff last year and lost big to Michigan State, 10-68. Illinois finished 2015 in sixth and will most certainly look to prove they deserve the fifth place title this year when they face Minnesota. Minnesota beat Michigan-B last year to cement their 7thplace spot in the Big Ten, winning 27-12.

Illinois currently sit in fifth with 11 points while Minnesota lurk just behind in sixth with 10 points. The Fighting Illini have recorded a 2-3-1 season and could finish the year above .500 with a win this weekend. The Gophers doubled their 2015 win total, finishing 2-4, but will still be disappointed losing two close games to Illinois and Purdue. The two met this season on October 15th and Illinois just edged by Minnesota 22-17. To win this match will be a good indicator of how the two teams have improved over the second half of the season and will be interesting score to follow.

3rd-Place Playoff- Michigan vs. #15 Wisconsin (12:30 p.m. ET) Live on TheRugbyChannel.TV
Michigan ended the year 4-2, only losing to tough opponents, Indiana and Ohio State. Wisconsin’s almost perfect season was ended in their last regular season match against Indiana when they lost 39-17, finishing the season 5-1. Both Michigan and Wisconsin failed to improve on their 2015 season records. They now find themselves in a rematch of last year’s third place playoff.

Last fall, Wisconsin defeated Michigan 84-0 on playoff day and took third. Wisconsin will be disappointed after finishing third in the regular season despite defeating rival Ohio State earlier in the season, 19-15. The Badgers will need to channel their frustration into their last match of 2016 and prove that they are one of the Midwest’s top teams. Michigan will want to improve on last year’s playoff performance.

Championship- #5 Indiana vs. #18 Ohio State (2:30 p.m. ET) Live on TheRugbyChannel.TV
This time last year, the two teams met on a frigid November afternoon and battled for the 2015 Big Ten Championship title. The match ended Indiana 34, Ohio State 14. Veteran players such as Teddy Terezis and Jake Hidalgo (Indiana) and Jojo Eramo and John Walsh (Ohio State) were instrumental to their teams performances last November and will most certainly be counted on by their teammates for leadership. The two team were both undefeated in 2015 heading into the championship match and not much has gone differently this year.

Indiana has not lost a single game. The most points allowed in a single match against the Hoosiers all season with 17 in their week seven defeat of Wisconsin. Indiana’s dominant 401 point differential is indicative of the season they had.

Ohio State recorded a 5-1 season this year, instead of their 2015 season of five wins and a draw. The Buckeyes sit in second place with 26 points. Two essential bonus points put Ohio State past Wisconsin (24 points) and into the championship. Michigan could have stripped Ohio State of their chances at a rematch, but the Buckeyes handled their business on the road, beat the Wolverines 65-17 , and will play for all the beans on Saturday, November 12th.

Although Indiana and Ohio State have not played each other since their meeting last year, they have shared opponents all season long. Indiana, against the same opponents, has averaged a higher margin of victory, than Ohio State and will make the Hoosiers the favorites this championship weekend. Ohio State  has plenty of experience and will be a handful for Indiana to contain. Anything can happen on Championship weekend.

B-Side Championship- Indiana-B vs. Ohio State-B (10:45 a.m. ET)
Indiana-B and Ohio-B will play each other in the developmental championship. The fact that these two teams are in the B-Side Championship is a testament to the two club’s commitment to development within their program. Having depth and youth not only gets a club through the tough injury prone season, but guarantees that the club takes steps forward each year and builds on their past accomplishments.