Round 10 Preview: Big Ten & Liberty Playoffs; while #1 Life returns to action

D1A Rugby: Round 10 Preview: Big Ten & Liberty Playoffs; while #1 Life returns to action
Photo Credit: Dave Chan Photography
  • Big Ten Playoffs, including Championship, will commence in Ohio
  • Liberty Conference Semifinals take place on the East coast
  • 4 Ranked Matchups on the table for this weekend
  • #1 Life awakens from their pre-season slumber against #5 Navy

A very big upcoming weekend is in store for all collegiate rugby players, fans and supporters alike. On the docket; two conferences commence their playoffs and championships, while a total of eight ranked opponents square off across the D1A landscape. Get ready for wild weekend, and make sure to visit any of the venues near you to watch some quality rugby.

BIG TEN PLAYOFFS/CHAMPIONSHIP

After a contested Big Ten conference season, the final Fall campaign matches will come down to one day, one venue, at Fortress Obetz in Obetz, Ohio on Saturday, November 9th. All games will be broadcasted on ElevenSports from 9am – 5pm Central Standard Time.

CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: In a storied rivalry within this conference, sets up an epic final Championship match with #15 Indiana (7-1) taking on #17 Ohio State (7-1). In their sole matchup earlier in the season, Indiana had beaten the Buckeyes, at home in a close 27-20 game. Expect a similar match to commence, as the hungry Ohio State club will aim to not only avenge their only loss of the season, but also for the title as the Kings of the Big Ten. The Hoosiers, who are former Champions too, will be looking to etch their name in the trophy once again. But first, a clash of the titans will take place to earn the right to make room on that shelf of accomplishments.

3RD PLACE MATCH: In the conference’s Bronze game, Illinois (3-3) will battle Michigan (4-2) for the right of the conference’s 3rd best team. The Illini have won the last 3 of their 4 matches, only losing to Ohio State. Michigan played Michigan State earlier in the week to establish who were to play within this match, ultimately the Wolverines coming out on top. Michigan have also won the past 3 of their last 4 matches, in a very close and contested Big Ten competition.

5TH PLACE MATCH: For the battle for 5th place, Wisconsin (3-5) will take on Michigan State (2-4-1). In their sole matchup earlier in the season, the Badgers had defeated the Spartans 32-24, in a tough game on their home turf. With home-field advantage taken away due to neutral territory, expect this game to go down to the wire, as the Michigan State side gained momentum from their earlier week’s victory vs Michigan.

7TH PLACE MATCH: In the bottom two matchup within the conference, Minnesota (1-4-1) will play the winless Purdue (0-6). The Boilermakers season has been a difficult one, but with three of their losses within a 16 point differential, they could be due for an end of the year victory. Minnesota on the other hand, have not won since their opening game vs Purdue, in which they only beat them by 8 points. Again, within a closely matched conference, expect an up-in-the-air game between these near even clubs.

LIBERTY SEMIFINALS

SEMIFINAL #1: Starting off the Liberty Conference Playoffs, the #4 seed, Boston College (5-1), will travel to upper New York to challenge the, #1 seeded home side, Syracuse (7-1). The Syracuse side finished undefeated, within their conference play, and will aim to continue that trend this upcoming Saturday. While Boston College is the #4 seed, try not to sleep on the Massachusetts club due to their only loss on the season a the hands from undefeated Northeastern, mid-way through the season. This matchup is too close to call, but nonetheless expect a game filled with spirited and passionate play as the Liberty conference playoffs ensue.

SEMIFINAL #2: In the other playoff matchup, the #3 seeded AIC (3-1) will travel to play the #2 seed Northeastern (7-0), in Boston. The undefeated Northeastern Huskies have been an on offensive tear for their season, scoring a total of 310 points, which averages 44(+) a game. Even though the Boston side is an attacking power-team, 3 of their wins came within a 10 point differential. On the other side of the ball, AIC, who have scored 176 in four games, are also averaging 44 points a game. This could be an absolute barn-burner of a match, with potentially the last team to score as the eventual winners.

MID-SOUTH

In one of the most sought-out-after matches of the entire 2019/20 regular season, the #1 ranked Life University (0-0) awake from their preseason slumber to battle #5 Navy (7-1). The Midshipmen are coming off their first defeat of the season, to #4 Lindenwood, and they will have their hands full attempting not to lose two in a row. While Life has played multiple preseason games, they will start off their Fall campaign with a tremendous clash of titanic proportions against a club that has played seven Top-20 teams already this season, winning six of them. This game will be a showcase for a potential Spring 2020 playoff match, with the winner of this bruising fight to have extreme confidence and momentum moving forward.

In another top-ranked matchup within the conference, #9 Davenport (1-1-1) will travel to South Carolina in their Top-25 battle with, On the Bubble, #21 Clemson (1-1). The Panthers of Michigan are coming off their October 27th tie with #11 Notre Dame College, and will be ready to pounce back on a winning opportunity. In Clemson’s only XVs match so far, beating Red River foe Texas A&M, they showed great potential of cracking the Top-20 this year, but will first have to get past their formidable opponent. Expect a fine Mid-South matchup that could have ripple effect consequences, if an upset takes place.

EAST

As the East conference has already crowned their top team in #6 Kutztown, there will be plenty at stake for the remainder matchups, specifically national rankings, conference standings and momentum for the future.

In the first of the two East matches, #12 Army (4-3) will hit the road and travel to Happy Valley to battle #10 Penn State (3-3). Penn State have been on a 3-game skid, losing to all Top-9 ranked clubs. Without an ease in schedule, the Nittany Lions will have to dig deep in order to find their composure for a much needed win. On the other side of the ball, Army has experienced the inverse, going 3-0 in their last few matches. With the Golden Knights chasing the #2 spot in the East, they will need to come away with a bonus point victory, without conceding a losing bonus point, in order to top them in the conference. If Penn State loses, but gains a bonus point, they will remain at the second position for the remainder of the Fall season.

In the other conference clash, #11 Notre Dame College (2-3-1) will be guests in the land of Fredericksburg, VA vs hosts Mary Washington (0-4). Mary Washington has had a difficult rookie D1A season, but show promise with non-lopsided defeats to most of their previous opponents, who are all Top-20 clubs. Notre Dame College has had one victory, one loss, and one tie in their last three matches. The inconsistent end results have encapsulated the Falcons season thus far, with close defeats and victories against ranked and unranked opponents. Their previous match’s tie, with #9 Davenport, should give the team confidence into their second to last matchup of the Fall season against their conference foe.

RED RIVER

As the Red River is in full swing for their XVs season, highest ranked conference team, #22 Texas A&M (1-1) will travel down the interstate to battle rival Baylor (1-0). Vying to disrupt the Bears unblemished beginning of the season, the Aggies have a difficult surge of defensive prowess in their ‘tool-belt’ of skills. After Baylor’s previous week victory against LSU, they’ll be keen on extending on that momentum into a winning streak.

In the next matchup, defending Red River conference Champions, #24 Oklahoma (1-0) will be hosting North Texas (0-0). With the Sooners new, and illustriously experienced, head coach will be a testament to their continued success down the road of the Fall campaign. North Texas has played a slew of preseason games along with competing in multiple 7s tournaments, but their first XVs matchup will be a test of character.

In the final Red River showdown this weekend, Texas (0-1) is traveling to the Baton Rouge marshland in facing the Tigers of LSU (0-1). In last year’s two matchups, these clubs each split a victory a piece from one another, and lookout for a very close match which may be determined by a potential mistake or mere bounce of the ball.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN

After their trouncing of New Mexico by almost 100 points, Utah Valley will be looking to take that momentum into Provo, UT in their upcoming matchup vs #8 powerhouse BYU (5-0). The Cougars have demolished their regular season opponents all Fall, thus far, with their closest victory at 32 points. Unfortunately for Utah Valley, who have had a very good season, have only lost twice due to a total of 6 points differential. Expect the UVU side to throw the kitchen sink at BYU in hopes of toppling the conference’s best.

Recent new arrival of On the Bubble rankings, #25 Colorado (4-1) will be on the road against rival Utah State (2-3). The Buffs are on a 3-game winning streak, and with massive momentum from beating, formerly #19 ranked, Colorado State. The last time these clubs played in the regular season was 2017, where Utah State got the best of the Colorado side. But with plenty of time in between their two matchups, these are completely different teams which might see a different outcome, unless Utah State decides to end the Buffaloes streak.

In the final Rocky Mountain matchup, Wyoming (1-4) will travel south across the state-line into Colorado Springs to face-off against Air Force (2-6). Wyoming has unfortunately lost their last 3 games, while Air Force is 1-2 in their previous few. The Cowboys have only scored 5 points total in their last three matches, and will be looking to find a foundation for their attack pattern to form, and hopefully take flight. Air Force have also struggled offensively this season, but a recent surge of 44 points against Utah State, two weekends ago, could serve as a template in how the southern Colorado side will wrangle in the Cowboys of Wyoming.

LIBERTY: NON-PLAYOFF

In the final couple weekends of Liberty play, there are two non-playoff matches taking place across the East coast. Guests, Fairfield (4-3), will be traveling into New York Gael territory playing #13 Iona (6-2). Iona has been a consistent Top-20 club all year, and will give Fairfield much of a challenge as the Gaels have been racking up big points in their last five matches. Their opponents have shown defensive potential, but Fairfield will need to be on their A+ game facing off against this dangerous Iona squad.

Elsewhere, the winless Rutgers (0-4) will host Binghamton (4-3). This will be a test for Rutgers as they will aim to finish their season on a high note against a fairly formidable opponent in Binghamton. The Bearcats have two games remaining on their schedule, in hopes of climbing the conference rankings to finish above Oswego State as the Empire’s #3 club.

11/8/2019Utah Valleyat#8 BYU7:00 PM MSTProvo, UT
11/9/2019#11 Notre Dame CollegeatMary Washington12:00 PM ESTFredricksburg, VA
TexasatLSU1:00 PM CSTBaton Rouge, LA
#12 Armyat#10 Penn State1:00 PM CSTState College, PA
#22 Texas A&Mat Baylor1:00 PM CSTWaco, TX
North Texasat#24 Oklahoma1:00 PM CSTNorman, OK
MinnesotavsPurdue9:00 AM CST7th Place – Big Ten Playoffs – Obetz, OH
WisconsinvsMichigan State11:00 AM CST5th Place – Big Ten Playoffs – Obetz, OH
IllinoisvsMichigan1:00 PM CST3rd Place – Big Ten Playoffs – Obetz, OH
#15 Indianavs#17 Ohio State3:00 PM CSTBig Ten Championship – Obetz, OH
WyomingatAir Force1:00 PM MSTColorado Springs, CO
#25 ColoradoatUtah State1:00 PM MSTLogan, UT
AIC (3rd Seed)atNortheastern (2nd Seed)3:30 PM ESTLiberty Semifinals – Boston, MA
Boston College (4th Seed)at Syracuse (1st Seed)1:00 PM ESTLiberty Semifinals – Syracuse, NY
#9 Davenportat#21 Clemson1:00 PM ESTClemson, SC
#1 Lifeat#5 Navy12:00 PM ESTAnnapolis, MD
Fairfieldat#13 Iona1:00 OM ESTNew Rochelle, NY
BinghamtonatRutgers1:00 PM ESTPiscataway, NJ