Round 15 Preview: Wildcats and Lions awaken from Winter slumber, while West Coast competition warms up

D1A Rugby: Round 15 Preview: Wildcats and Lions awaken from Winter slumber, while West Coast competition warms up
Photo Credit: Central Washington Rugby Instagram
  • Independent Conference’s #19 Central Washington awakens from their long XV’s slumber to face top ranked #13 Arizona
  • Powerhouse #3 Lindenwood takes on cross conference foe in Oklahoma in their first match of 2020
  • Ever-dangerous #2 Cal travels south tot take on the Aztecs of SDSU
  • Three California Conferences matchups to decide the final January standings and points
  • Two Red River showdowns in the state of Texas, with multiple teams first match of the new year

CROSSOVER / INDEPENDENT

In the only ‘Top 20 matchup’ of the week, the Wildcats of Ellensburg, WA, a.ka. #19 Central Washington University (0-0) will be packing up for a road-trip down to warmer weather in Tucson, AZ facing-off against the other Wildcats of #13 Arizona (1-0). As both clubs strive to make noise within the division, and Top 20 rankings, their strength of schedule will make-or-break either side. The two Wildcats come together for an all-out brawl in the desert, as claws will be sharpened and battle faces readied for an exciting clash of powerful clubs. Central Washington has yet to play a regular season matchup, but this initial 2020 showdown will certainly be a tough test out of the gates.

In last year’s matchup between these two clubs, Arizona took the wind out of Central’s sails, and ultimately defeated them 28-19. In an extremely close game, we’ll expect nothing less for the stage to be set as a potential revenge game for the Ellensburg side. But before they do, Arizona has already had one game under their 2020 belts, in heavily defeating San Diego State, 83-5.

In the next matchup of the crossovers, Oklahoma (3-0) will be hosting the hungry #3 Lindenwood Lions (3-0) in Norman, OK. Both of these clubs have yet to add a tick in the loss column thus far, but that will change very soon. Oklahoma has been more active as of late, playing last weekend and beating the Baylor Bears handily. Although Oklahoma has stayed within the Red River conference, this will be their first crossover match since facing Navy last April.

On the other side of the pitch, Lindenwood will awaken from their winter slumber, not having played a regular season match since November 16th, when they beat Mid-South rivals, Davenport. The Lions of Missouri have had two close matches in their season thus far, beating Army by 17 and Navy by 5. Undoubtedly those were difficult ranked matchups, but this will be a different test for both clubs as they mentally prepare to continue their seasons in undefeated fashion.

In the final crossover conference matchup of the week, #2 Cal Golden Bears (1-0) will hit the road and travel South to the beaches of San Diego playing the Aztecs of SDSU (0-1). San Diego State took a big hit last week against Arizona, and will be looking to slow down the Bears who are firing on all cylinders. Unfortunately last year’s matchup between the two clubs did not go well for the Southern California side, but as that was last year’s news, their sights will be set on creating a new standard for the upcoming clash.

The Golden Bears in their first match of the season, devastatingly beat UC Davis and shut them out 137-0. Although this might have been a mismatch, the Bears see it as another opportunity to hone their craft and improve their skills. That same mindset, will continue forward in facing-off against SDSU on the road. Expect Cal to roll into San Diego with a #MambaMentality, and continue their march forward with a ‘business as usual’ perspective.

CALIFORNIA

In the FTF Next Game of the Week, Santa Clara (0-1) will host UC Davis (0-2) as the live broadcasted game through partners, Eleven Sports. Both of these clubs will be playing their second inter-conference matchup of the year thus far, and will be more evenly matched than both of their losses to St. Mary’s earlier. The Aggies of Davis have yet to score a point so far in their two matches, although both were played against SMC or Cal, and will be looking to come out with their first victory of the 2020 campaign.

For the SCUTS and Aggies matchup last year, it was a close game where Davis came out on top 33-24. Tune in for the live broadcast of this clash 4:00 PM PST, on Eleven Sports or FTF Next. In this exciting new partnership, one matchup a week will be spotlighted and kudos for both clubs getting the nod to showcase their skills in front of the nation.

WATCH LIVE HERE » FTFNext.com OR bit.ly/2JoEgJE

In the second California Conference matchup, Cal Poly (0-2) will be traveling North to Moraga, CA to face one of the hotter teams in the nation, with #4 St. Mary’s (3-0). In their superb preseason, Cal Poly has yet to find their footing within the regular season campaign, with a close inaugural loss to Grand Canyon by 3 points, and a more heavier defeat to Top 20 ranked UCLA 7-65. The Mustangs of Coastal California will be digging their hooves in the turf, and expect them to come out firing against the perennial powerhouse and rivals, St. Mary’s.

The Gaels have been rolling through their competition thus far scoring a total of 226 points and only conceding 17 total, all of which came in their last match against UCSB. St. Mary’s does not look to be slowing down, which could be daunting for Cal Poly, especially on their home turf, in front of their rowdy crowd.

In the final matchup within the conference, #21 Grand Canyon (1-0) will host UC Santa Barbara (0-1). This will be a very tough match to call since Santa Barbara only loss to St. Mary’s by 19 points, along with a Grand Canyon close win versus Cal Poly. Although GCU will be carrying that On The Bubble #21 ranking with them into the weekend, expect UCSB to throw the kitchen sink at the ‘Lopes of Phoenix, AZ to gain their first win of the season.

In last years contest, Grand Canyon defeated Santa Barbara 65-5, on UCSB’s home turf. This upcoming battle will be an interesting one to say the least, in which both clubs will be vying for superiority within the standings while gaining confidence into the beginning of their 2020 campaigns.

RED RIVER

Finishing up this weekend’s matchups will be a host of Lone Star state home-field advantages, beginning with LSU Tigers (0-3) traveling Eastbound on I-10 to College Station, TX to play the #25 Texas A&M Aggies (3-2). Following last week’s difficult matchup versus BYU, Texas A&M will have their sights set on the winless Baton Rouge side in regaining momentum and a winning confidence moving forward. These two clubs had played each other on November 23rd, where the Aggies came out victorious, 44-12 on LSU’s campus. Texas A&M is currently tied with Oklahoma in the standings position (1st) and points (15), and with a win will potentially secure a jump in the conference.

On the other side of the pitch, the LSU Tigers will be vying to avenge their last three losses to fellow Red River rivals. Having not won a game in the matchup since February 2018, the Tigers will be hungry in attaining that first win of the season. If they accomplish this feat, they will earn their first standings points of the season along with a resurgence of pride in their hard-work, and effort, thus far.

In the second and final matchup within the Red River, North Texas (1-1) will travel to Lubbock to face-off against Texas Tech (0-2). Both of these clubs’ last match was against one-another on November 23rd, where North Texas came out on top, 36-15. The Northern Texas side is surely hungry in continuing their success against the conference rivals, but will also be facing a club which hasn’t won a conference game since 2018. This is dangerous for any club, because the other essentially has everything to play for, and nothing to lose. Expect a close matchup to go down in Lubbock, with the winner potentially taking on bragging rights for the next year.

ALL GAMES ACROSS THE WEEKEND

DATEAWAYHOMELOCATION
Saturday, Feb 1st#19 Central Washingtonat#13 ArizonaTucson, AZ
#3 LindenwoodatOklahomaNorman, OK
Cal Polyat#4 St. Mary’sMoraga, CA
UC DavisatSanta ClaraSanta Clara, CA
UC Santa Barbaraat#21 Grand CanyonPhoenix, AZ
LSUat#25 Texas A&MCollege Station, TX
North TexasatTexas TechLubbock, TX
#2 CALatSan Diego StateSan Diego, CA