#6 Indiana vs #15 Wisconsin
In this decisive matchup that was to decide who would advance to the Big Ten Championship, Indiana defeated Wisconsin 39-17 in Bloomington, IN. Both the Badgers and the Hoosiers came into the game undefeated through five conference games.
The high paced match between the top two teams on the Big Ten table began early when the home team took advantage of an early Teddy Terezis penalty kick in the fifth minute. Indiana got away to an early 27-10 lead in the first half. All of the Hoosier points were scored through their forwards. Prop Roberto Castellon-Lazo and eight man Tyler Graham each managed two tries while teammates Connor Marsh, Travis Katona also scored a try each. The Badgers did most of their scoring on the outside. Flanker Gabe Kinzer, Fly-half Tyler Crass and captain fullback Dan Pettay scored throughout the game against the Hoosiers but was not enough in the end to match Indiana’s performance. The final score in Bloomington was Indiana 39, Wisconsin 17.
After the weekend, both teams moved up the D1A Top 20 rankings, much to the testament of the quality of rugby in the Big Ten.
#19 Ohio State vs Michigan, 65-17
Ohio State and Michigan sat in third and fourth place respectively going into their match. The two sides met in Columbus, OH and battled to stay in contention for the Big Ten Championship. In true Buckeye fashion, Ohio State scored in the third minute of the match through winger John Walsh. The Ohio State backline continued to score at will throughout the second half, only interrupted by Michigan winger Colin Walters’ lone first half try. John Walsh converted all four Buckeye tries and even slotted a drop goal in the last moments of the first half to raise the score to 31-5 at half.
The Buckeye scoring continued in 48th and 50th with tries from experienced center Jamie Barlow and winger Jojo Eramo. Two more Ohio State tries made the score 55-5 before the Wolverines could respond with a try of their own. Michigan winger David Caputo’s try only halted the Buckeye attack for a few minutes before flanker Matthew Stauder claimed a try in the 68th minute. The end of the match was a back and forth try scoring affair. Michigan scored their third of the day through dynamic inside center Andry-Tohy Rakotovololona only to let Ohio State have the last word scoring late in the 80th minute of the match. Ohio State defeated Michigan 65-17 in their last regular season game.
Illinois vs Purdue
After losing their first four matches against conference opponents, Purdue bounced back and beat Minnesota 22-12. Illinois was 2-3 headed into this match after a 17-31 loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor. The two teams would meet for their last regular season match in Champaign, IL.
Illinois winger Jamie Garza opened the scoring in the 30th minute. Inside center Matthew Ramsey extended the lead in the 42nd minute to 10-0. Missed conversations by the Fighting Illini would prove to be too much of an irritating obstacle to overcome. Purdue rallied in the second half and mounted a valiant comeback. Purdue scrum half scored the single Boilermaker try in the 50th minute. Fullback Mark O’Brien successfully converted his teammates try to bring the score to 10-7. A clutch penalty kick in the 70th minute completed the Boilermaker comeback and tied the game at 10-10. Both Illinois and Purdue could not manage to steal the victory from each other and the match ended in a draw.
Iowa vs Minnesota
Iowa entered their last match of the fall 2016 season 0-5. The Hawkeyes had to face the Big Ten’s top four teams and their season suffered because of it. Minnesota, after losing a two close games to Illinois and Purdue, began the match 1-4.
It was a high scoring match that had several lead changes. Minnesota flanker Luka Pavlakis was the real difference maker in the stalemated match. Pavlakis converted many of the Gopher tries and bagged a hat-trick scoring his last to cement the Minnesota win. The final score was Iowa 33, Minnesota 38.
Final Points Standings
With the final match played and the last points scored, undefeated Indiana sit atop the Big Ten table with 30 points. Although Ohio State and Wisconsin both recorded 5-1 seasons, the Buckeyes did well to collect 2 more bonus point than the Badgers. So Ohio State, despite losing to Wisconsin earlier in the season, sit in second place with 26 points above Wisconsin in third place with 24 points. This year’s Big Ten Championship will be a rematch of last year’s championship. The final score in 2015 was 34-14 in favor of the Hoosiers.
Michigan finished the season with 20 points and four wins and will face Wisconsin in the third place playoff. In fact, the Badgers and Wolverines battle for third place last year. Wisconsin defeated Michigan 84-0.
Illinois and Minnesota both finished their season with two wins and 11 points. However, Illinois get the leg up on the Gophers due to a slight point differential advantage. The two will play each other in the fifth place playoff on November 12th, while Michigan State, Purdue and Iowa round out the bottom three.
The B-Side of each Big Ten team has also played their own season. This year’s B-Side championship will be between Indiana-B and Ohio State-B.