Big Ten Week 4 Preview

D1A Rugby: Big Ten Week 4 Preview
Photo Credit: ClarkstonPhotography

Indiana 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. 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.

Iowa, after their close week two loss to Michigan and a tough match against Ohio State, will rest over their mid-season bye week. The Hawkeyes will face Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota through the second half of their 2016 season.

Minnesota vs. #19 Wisconsin

After their resilient victory over Michigan State 17-14, Minnesota will look to continue in top form against the Badgers this Saturday in Minneapolis, MN. The Gophers plan to give Wisconsin the best competition they have faced so far and improve on their 1-1 record.

Wisconsin will get on the road again after their away win against Michigan State 51-10. The Wisconsin offense led by the week two D1A Player of the Week Dane Fleck will look to gain the full points from their trip to Minnesota.

Although Wisconsin’s margin of victory was more decisive than that of the Sparrtans, Minnesota believe that their new system will cause trouble for the Badgers.

#5 Indiana vs. Michigan

The Hoosiers will have to prepare for their toughest matchup of the season yet against a 2-0 Michigan. After huge wins over the first three weeks totaling to a point differential of +252, Indiana will have to remain focused when they welcome the Wolverines to Bloomington, IN. 

The Wolverines have logged two convincing wins over Minnesota and Iowa. Michigan’s style of play should throw a few wrinkles in the conference leader’s dominant system and will require them to adjust. Last season’s encounter between the two ended 41-7 in favor of Indiana.

Illinois vs. #20 Ohio State

Illinois impressed in their first win over Iowa, 45-0. Since then they have faced Indiana and rested over week three. Illinois will come out of its bye week firing to prove that they are among the best in the conference. Although the Fighting Illini are 1-1, with a win over Ohio State, Illinois could end with a five-win season.

Illinois will have to come up with an answer for Ohio’s eight man and week three D1A Player of the Week Nate Heister after his dominant performance against Iowa. The Buckeyes, after resting in week one, have started 2-0 in the Big Ten. Ohio State’s mix of young talent, key transfer students and experienced veterans make them a serious contender this year.

Purdue vs. Michigan State

Both Purdue and Michigan State will be eyeing this weekend to earn their first conference win. Michigan State coming off a well fought game against Minnesota are hungry to prove themselves in the Big Ten. Michigan State will continue to depend on fly-half Ryan Britain and his excellent kicking form to hold an advantage over Purdue.

The Boilermakers most certainly drew the toughest start to the season against three D1A Top 20 ranked teams. Playing consecutive games against tough opponents will have prepared them for Michigan State this Saturday and Minnesota and Illinois to come. Purdue still has the opportunity to go 3-3 this season if they win the remainder of their matches.

Week four sets the stage for an exciting weekend of Big Ten rugby. Some look for their first wins, while others fight to remain unbeaten. This time next week, we will have a better understanding of how the rest of the season might unfold.