Big Ten Week Two Preview

D1A Rugby: Big Ten Week Two Preview
Photo Credit: Clarkston Photography

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – After an exciting first week of Big Ten rugby, every team will be looking to build on their first matches. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin will strive to go 2-0, while Iowa, Michigan State and Purdue will look for their first wins, and Ohio will play its first match of the season.

Minnesota will recover from their week one loss against Michigan. This week off gives the Gophers plenty of time to regroup and attack the season again when they face Michigan State at home Oct. 1. Minnesota will try to take advantage of the Spartans’ difficult start to their season with openers against No. 6 Indiana (73-0) and No. 18 Wisconsin.

Ohio State vs. Purdue
After an extra week of preseason work, the Buckeyes will start their season against Purdue. With big roles to fill in the Ohio pack, Coach Tom Rooney and the coaching staff will be watching for big games from their younger players. The Buckeyes’ back line will welcome Wheeling Jesuit transfer Jamie Barlow to the centers and hope for an impactful home debut.

Last year Ohio traveled to West Lafayette, Ind., and defeated the Boilermakers, 78-7.

After their Week 1 loss against Wisconsin, 79-8, Purdue will strive to improve over the week and look to shock the Buckeyes to rally to 1-1.

Iowa vs. Michigan

Iowa will be disappointed with its loss to Illinois, 45-0, last week, and will want to bounce back against Michigan. Last year’s matchup between the two sides that ended a Michigan victory, 75-14. That outcome was a far cry from the 2014 win the Hawkeyes pulled off against the Wolverines during the Big Ten Championship weekend to finish the season third on the conference.

Michigan will be pleased with its win over Minnesota, 62-19, but will still seek to improve over the week.

Indiana vs. Illinois

Indiana beat Michigan State, 73-0, last week. The Hoosiers’ dominant performance was led by fly half Teddy Terezis, who scored 28 of the team’s points. The 2015 Big Ten Champions will want to keep their unbeaten streak, but to do so they will need to maintain focus against the Fighting Illini.

Illinois started the season strong by defeating Iowa, 45-0. The Illini believe that the return of fly half Matt Ramsey and the growing team chemistry have them on track for a successful season. These strengths may prove enough to upset Indiana.

Last year’s meeting between the two ended 53-23 in Indiana’s favor. Illinois’s 23 points against Indiana was the most of any team during the 2015 season and will certainly be on the minds of the two teams going into this match as each will try to hand the other their first loss of the season.

Michigan State vs. Wisconsin

The Spartans opened their 2016-17 season against the reigning Big Ten Champion, Indiana, in a 73-0 shutout that highlighted the class of the Hoosiers more than it showcased Michigan State’s shortcomings. It will not be much easier in Week 2, as a determined Wisconsin is coming off of an impressive, 79-8, defeat of Purdue months after returning the conference title to Indiana. The win also brought the Badgers into the Top 20 Rankings.

The Week 1 result followed a theme Michigan State dealt with last year – losing to Big Ten’s big rugby schools. They will not want to look past this Saturday’s home match until Sunday, but the Spartans may need the trip to Minnesota Oct. 1 to recover from the Badgers’ visit to East Lansing.

Wisconsin’s Crass brothers, Hunter and Tyler, scored a try apiece against the Boilermakers, with the latter giving up the fly-half reigns to sophomore Joseph Lehrmann after 55 minutes. The Badgers scored half of their tries in that final portion of the match, and will have given their playmakers and starting XV plenty of recovery time for a full, 80-minute performance on the road against Michigan State. With a bye next week, Wisconsin should be expected to leave the field this weekend with another big win.