Fall Week 5 Preview: 17 Matches Set Stage For a Massive Round

D1A Rugby: Fall Week 5 Preview: 17 Matches Set Stage For a Massive Round
Photo Credit: Iona College Rugby Football Club Facebook Page
Another week of D1A action is upon us and it is packed to the rafters with quality matches. This weekend sees thirty-four teams take the pitch as seventeen matches across five conferences take place.

Liberty kicks starts the weekend with three games underneath Friday night lights. The big match will be between #17 Iona and Stony Brook. The Gaels  journey from Westchester down to Long Island to take on the Seawolves. Iona has started in fine form this year, pushing both #6 Army and #8 Navy for the full eighty minutes. The Seawolves have struggled to open the season, but a good showing on Friday night could give them the momentum boost they need. In the Empire division Cortland and Albany will play each other. With a win here, Albany could take over 1st place in the division ahead of Syracuse. Friday night will also see a crossover match of I-95’s leader Fordham and New England’s leader UConn. The game will be a good demonstration of which division within the conference is the toughest.

On Saturday Rugby East continues its fall season with two games. #6 Army and #15 Kutztown will meet on Saturday. This will be the first Rugby East match for Kutztown on the year, and it starts a treacherous schedule for the Golden Bears. In the next three weeks they face, Army, #11 Notre Dame College and then #5 Penn State. It won’t be an easy stretch, but they’ll fancy their odds. Army is coming off a hot start to their Rugby East season, knocking off St. Bonaventure and then Buffalo by double digit margins. The other Rugby East Match this weekend will see St. Bonaventure take on Wheeling Jesuit. Bonnies are coming fresh off their first conference win, while wheeling Jesuit had a weekend to forget in their last outing. WJU was a team pundits thought could surprise folks this year, this could be the game to get the season back on track.

#5 Penn State will host the Ohio State Buckeyes, as the two traditional rivals face one another. Ohio State has had a sluggish start to the season, and it has taken the competition by surprise. Ranked 18th heading into the season they were seen as a real contender to knock over Indiana in the Big Ten, but two consecutive losses have dampened expectations. Penn State has only played one game against a fellow D1A opponent, Notre Dame College, this year and it took a resurgence in the final fifteen minutes for last year’s semifinalists to pull away. Both teams will be looking to land statement victories this weekend.

Other Big Ten teams in action this weekend include, Purdue taking on #14 Indiana and Michigan hosting Wisconsin. The Indiana Purdue game at the beginning of the season, might have been seen by some as a straight forward win for the Hoosiers, but Purdue has come out firing this year and look like a team that could wreak havoc on the league. Michigan will hope it isn’t too late to save their season, after they’ve experienced a slower than expected start. It won’t be an easy task coming up against a quality Wisconsin outfit, but they’ll need to win this game to keep their hopes for the season alive.

One of the biggest questions heading into this season was, “How would #7 BYU handle the departure of long time head coach David Smyth, and how would they fit into the Rocky Mountain Conference?” This weekend fans will get their answer. The Cougars start their season off with a game against in state rival, Utah State. The Aggies got their began on the right foot blowing by Wyoming 64-5, but they will have a hard time producing a similar score line against BYU. In other Rocky Mountain play, Colorado State will look to rebound from last week’s loss when they play New Mexico; and Colorado will look to continue their hot start to the season against a formidable Air Force side. There will be plenty of riveting action taking place out west.

Red River gets their second weekend of matches underway, and already, it will see one of its most pivotal games of the season. Last year’s champion, Texas A&M will take on perennial contender LSU. The Aggies will host the Tigers in College Station. Texas A&M are coming in hot, after dusting off Texas last weekend. In the other game this weekend Arkansas’s Razorbacks will be up against the Oklahoma Sooners. Arkansas opened their season with a massive win against Texas Tech, while this will be the first game of the year for the Sooners.

Liberty finishes off the weekend with a spattering of games. 2017 Empire’s divisional champion, Binghamton will welcome newcomers Oswego, Brockport and Colgate will both search for their first and second win of the season respectively. In the New England division Rhode Island and Tufts will host Fairfield and UMass respectively.