Jarrod Beckstrom is a globally nomadic sports-addicted renewable energy advocate fisherman. He’s the former communications manager of USA Rugby and has been covering high school, college, and international rugby since 2004. His opinions and picks don’t necessarily reflect the views of USA Rugby or D1A Rugby. Follow him on Twitter (@willcrawlthere). He welcomes well-informed and civil rugby discourse.
BOULDER, Colo. — Well, I’m on a bit of a roll (6-0 on my picks last week. Just sayin’…), but all that might come to a screeching halt on Saturday. A lot of tight match-ups and a few teams have their backs against the wall, which always makes things a little unpredictable.
You have a fired up Sooners team fighting for their postseason lives in the Allied Rugby Conference and the Texas Longhorns are doing the same.
In the East, Army and Penn State square off in a game that could well determine the #1 seed out of the conference. But the fun doesn’t end there.
Arkansas State travels to Grand Rapids, Mich., to face a rapidly improving Davenport team who almost offed the Red Wolves two weeks ago in Jonesboro.
West Conference action also rolls along with Colorado State @ Northern Colorado and New Mexico @ Wyoming.
Here are my picks:
Baylor @ Texas
Pick: Texas. The Longhorns do themselves a huge favor by getting a bonus point this weekend and I think they'll do it. They're an emotional bunch and they'll be fired up at the chance to spoil the Sooners' postseason dreams.
Texas A&M @ Oklahoma
Pick: Texas A&M. All the pressure is on OU for this one and that will be their undoing. The Aggies are in the ARC Championship game, win or lose, as they storm into the final week of the regular season undefeated. Oklahoma will be ready to play, but A&M has too many weapons and has the luxury of being able to use the game as a tune-up for the conference championship on April 6.
Army @ Penn State
Pick: Can I not make a pick on this one? Look, there is a lot to like about both of these teams. They're both extremely tough and hard-hitting, both have solid packs, and they play good defensive rugby. Army's been tested in tight games in the preseason against NYAC and Boston and last week as well at Kutztown so I have to give the edge to Army.
Arkansas State @ Davenport
Pick: Arkansas State. Maybe the Red Wolves were sleeping on Davenport in the last encounter with images of spring break beaches and drinks with little umbrellas drifting through their heads, but the fact remains that the #1 team almost got upset in a big way by a first-year D1A team at home. There is no doubt that Davenport is gunning for Arkansas State and the Red Wolves will have to play lights out to win. I think they will do exactly that.
On a personnel note, the battle of the #10s is going to be quite a treat. J.P. Eloff vs. Pat Sullivan. Both are multiple All-Americans with the potential to play at the next level.
Colorado State @ Northern Colorado
Pick: Northern Colorado. NC has taken some licks in their first season in D1A, and I think they'll only get better because of it. A hefty loss to Arkansas State earlier in the year will have taught Northern Colorado a lot of valuable lessons about the pace of D1A. They'll use those lessons to knock off the favored Rams in Greeley, Colo., this weekend.
New Mexico @ Wyoming
Pick: Wyoming. New Mexico will have a hard time adjusting to the big bodies of Wyoming just as they did last weekend against Colorado State.