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. — Last week I felt confident about most of my picks, this week I simply don’t. I expect a lot of tight games. The West gets going and with two new teams in the conference, it may take a few weeks to know what’s what.
Meanwhile, there are some critical games in the Mid-South, California, and Allied conferences this week. The headliners have to be Life @ Arkansas State and St. Mary’s @ Cal Poly.
Here are my best attempt at picks this week:
Texas A&M @ Texas
Pick: A&M. Both of these teams have a hot hand and are undefeated in conference play. Texas has been galvanized by their last two games, winning in thrilling fashion two weeks in a row. But, I think A&M is back on track. They have an excellent flyhalf in All-American Conor Mils who will put Texas under pressure all day. This one will be webcast on Friday March 8 at 8 p.m. Central.
Baylor @ Sam Houston State
Pick: Baylor. Both of these teams have been pushed around in the first few weeks of conference play, but I think Baylor will take the win.
Oklahoma @ Texas Tech
Pick: Oklahoma. This one will be a blast to watch. Each team has their superstars. Tech has Abdul Sule, Robert Poyser, and Kyle Kulka who have 20 tries between the three of them this season. But the Sooners have a pair of backs (Michael al Jaboori and Brad Henry) who have combined for 17 tries this year. It’ll be a dog fight, but OU will win.
Sac State @ San Diego State
Pick: San Diego State. The Aztecs are rolling and will be too much for Sac State, but it’s not going to be a walk in the park for SDSU. Sac State gets better every game and gave Cal Poly a bit of a run last weekend.
St. Mary’s @ Cal Poly
Pick: St. Mary’s. I have to go with the Gaels this weekend. Poly is very good, but St. Mary’s has more depth and experience. With the added intrigue of a #1 playoff seed at stake, I’m guessing St. Mary’s will be fired up.
UC – Davis @ Stanford
Pick: Stanford. I’ll give the home team the advantage, but these teams are pretty evenly matched.
Life @ Arkansas State
Pick: Who knows? It’s always a blast seeing these two powerhouses go at it, so can’t we just appreciate the rugby? No? Ok. I’ll go with Arkansas State. The Red Wolves didn’t beat Life one time last season, but they will this season.
New Mexico @ Colorado
Pick: Colorado. The Buffs have been on a good trajectory over the last two seasons, implementing more effective systems and playing a lot of sevens, which will spoil New Mexico’s D1A debut.
Central Washington @ Northern Colorado
Pick: Central Washington. With loads of talent and pace, I think CWU will take it to the Bears in Greeley, Colo. but NC will learn a lot from their first two games against two of the top teams in the country and quickly become a force in the West conference.
Wyoming @ Colorado State
Pick: Colorado State. The Rams are playing pretty well, beating Northern Colorado and the Denver Highlanders in preseason games. A loss to the Denver Barbarians last weekend will likely have toughened them up and gotten them used to the big bodies that Wyoming seems to always turn up.