BOULDER, Colo. – Following Saturday’s match between Michigan and Indiana, only one undefeated team will remain in the Big Ten Universities Conference.
The Wolverines and Hoosiers represent the two remaining teams in the conference without a loss to their record. The game is also a rematch from last year’s Big Ten Championship game, which concluded in a 58-38 victory for Indiana.
“It’s going to be a good ol’ fashion midwest slobber-knocker,” described Michigan Head Coach Brandon Sparks. “I think our seniors feel they have something to prove after being soundly defeated by Indiana at the Big Ten Final last year. That’s been something that’s been driving them forward this season.”
Both units have impressed during the first four weeks of the BTU season, so it should be a close contest. Although it seems Indiana envisions a match that may not be best described as the “slobber-knocker” Sparks predicts.
“I think the fans can expect an up-tempo game,” said Indiana Head Coach Sarasopa Enari. “It’s going to be an exciting game.”
With Michigan and Indiana playing so well, it would be a fair prediction to pick the two squads to meet again in November to play in the Big Ten Universities Conference Championship. However, Indiana was dealt penalties after it was determined the team used ineligible players during last fall’s season. The subsequent fallout disqualifies Indiana from playing in the 2014 BTU Championship, as well as this spring’s D1A Playoffs.
Despite the penalty that has eliminated a very good team from postseason play during the 2014-15 academic calendar, Enari has been impressed with his players’ resolve to continue to train hard and prepare as they would prior to the sanctions.
“What these boys are facing is out of their control,” said Enari. “All they can do is enjoy the game and play the best rugby they can put forward. The boys still want to put in the work and they want to be in the winning column.”
For Michigan, the team knows that a loss to Indiana still leaves them in good position to reach the BTU Championship. Even so, the boys from Ann Arbor are not only working towards a Conference Championship, but also want to be known as the best team in the region.
“It’s a big game no matter how you slice it,” Sparks said. “Our kids are pack full of pride and want to be the best. For that to happen, you have to beat the best teams.”