Round 9 Preview: Top 5 clash in Mid-South, while Red River floodgates open for season

D1A Rugby: Round 9 Preview: Top 5 clash in Mid-South, while Red River floodgates open for season
Photo Credit: BYU Photo
  • Red River Conference play begins
  • Top Ranked Mid-South Matchup: Navy vs Lindenwood
  • Military Rivalry: Army vs Air Force
  • Liberty Conference position standings on the line

MID-SOUTH

In the Match of the Week, undefeated #4 Navy (7-0) will be traveling to St. Charles, MO for their third Mid-South conference game to face-off against #5 Lindenwood.  The nation’s top active team thus far, Navy, will be ready for the big challenge against a very strong Lion squad. Navy have had quite the schedule so far, with all but one of their seven games have been against ranked opponents.  Within regular season matches, Lindenwood have dipped their toes in the proverbial water playing only one so far against Army, who they had defeated 27-10.  This upcoming match will undoubtedly be a fight for the cemented #4 ranked spot in D1A Rugby. The last and only time these clubs have faced off in the regular season, was last year with Lindenwood coming away with the 18-12 victory.  Expect an incredibly close and hard fought match between these conference rivals, and make sure to head to Lindenwood University, MO if you are within driving range of the campus.

RED RIVER

The Red River Conference has wrapped up their 7s seasons and are now full-steam ahead for XVs.  TeShay Flowers, Commissioner of Red River Rugby Conference, had this to mention of what to watch out for, regarding the upcoming competition, “In a conference that has been built on parity, this season may be the hardest to predict.  Changes in coaches, conference make-up, and the fact that the Red River has never had a 2-time champion really has us excited.  If form holds, either the University of Texas or North Texas will be the next program to hoist the trophy. Texas A&M is returning with a very strong team, University of Oklahoma is the defending Champs, and Baylor looks Hungry!  This should be a great year in the Red River!”

The current #23 ranked, On the Bubble, Texas A&M (0-1) will be on the road to Austin in a heated matchup with their inter-state rivals, Texas (0-0).  As the Aggies are prepared for a strong upcoming season, they will have their hands full in wrangling this Longhorn side. Texas A&M has already played one D1A regular season match against OTB #24 Clemson, unfortunately losing 13 – 27.  It has almost been a month since the contest, but Texas (UT) will be hungry in establishing themselves early within this closely contested River River opening matchup. Watch out for the Longhorns in avenging last year’s two big losses to the Aggies.

#25 Oklahoma (0-0), last year’s Red River Conference Champions will host Texas Tech (0-0) in an opening matchup welcoming first year D1A Head Coach, Blikkies Groenewald.  Although Groenewald is new to the D1A division, he has an incredibly extensive international coaching resume, majorly within South African and Polish competitions. The defending conference champions are starting their XVs season as an OTB team, and will have their sights set on the Top-20.  But first, they must get past their inter-state rival in Texas Tech. The Red Raiders unfortunately had a winless Red River XVs competition the previous year, but will have their hopes set high for a new year, along with an updated roster.

In the final RRC match, Baylor (0-0) will travel to the Baton Rouge swamp to face-off against the LSU Tigers (0-0).  Bayor had an impressive campaign last year going 7-2, with their only two losses both against Texas A&M. LSU on the other hand, had the inverse results last year, going 1-7.  Both of these clubs’ matches against on another very fairly close last year, and expect the same outcome to happen in this upcoming weekend.

CROSSOVER

In a historic and traditional rivalry match, the #12 Army West Point (3-3) will fly themselves into Colorado Spring to battle their military foes, Air Force (2-5).  The Falcons have had a difficult Rocky Mountain gauntlet so far this year, and will have to muster up as much courage and effort heading into this sure-fire clash with a talented Army side.  The Golden Knights have been on the inconsistent side this Fall campaign, which is due to their extremely difficult East conference and crossover matches. Army has just two games left in their Fall campaign, but will have an even harder Spring 2020 once the thick of winter has passed.  This historic matchup will unveil the true character of the sport of rugby by showing each other signs of true mutual respect.

#6 Kutztown (5-1) will travel to South Bend, IN to battle the Independent Conference Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-3).  The Golden Bears of Pennsylvania are coming off a celebratory week with their crowning as the East Conference’s Champions, and will not let up their effort in this impending clash.  Notre Dame has won their last two matches beating the previously undefeated Syracuse, and Big Ten bruiser Michigan. This will be an interesting match to see how well the Fighting Irish will be able to stack themselves against the East’s best.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN

Up ahead in the snowy Rocky Mountains, big time rivals Colorado of Boulder (3-1) will head up I-25 towards Fort Collins to play #19 Colorado State (4-1). Both of these clubs only current losses were to conference powerhouse, BYU. In these clubs last four matchups, the records have been split down the middle at two wins apiece.  This battle for Northern Colorado will be on the line in this close matchup, with both clubs itching for a chance at best seeding within their conference playoffs.

The only other game within the conference will take place in Orem, UT as New Mexico (0-4) travels to hosting team of Utah Valley (1-2).  The Lobos are still in search of their first win of the Fall campaign, but this upcoming match will be a tough one as UVU are a solid side not to mess with.  Although Utah Valley’s record is under .500, do not sleep on this well-coached team with both of their losses combined for a total of 6 points in differential.

EAST

Since the East Conference had been clinched last weekend with Kutztown crowned as Champs, the lone battle in play will be St. Bonaventure (1-5) on the road playing Mary Washington (0-3) in Fredericksburg, VA.  The Bonnies have had a tough-go within their Fall campaign playing a gauntlet of D1A powerhouses, including a four-game consecutive skid. Mary Washington on the other hand has had a more stretch out schedule playing three games within six weeks.  Rest may be a factor for the new D1A club in their final stretch of the season, while the Bonnies may be roughed up in their 5th straight match in as many weeks. Look for Mary Washington in attaining their first D1A win of their club’s existence against a struggling St. Bonaventure side.

BIG TEN

Leading off the Inter-Big Ten competitions this upcoming weekend will be #16 Indiana (6-1) marching their battle drums into Ann Arbor, MI to face hots Michigan (2-2).  Indiana are currently undefeated in conference play, but unfortunately are 1 standing point behind leader, Ohio State. The Hoosiers must compete for a win while attaining a bonus point in hopes of leading or tying for the conference lead.  While Indiana has won six straight, the Wolverines are hungry coming off their big defeat to Notre Dame. Michigan is only 1-2 at home, while the Hoosier side is undefeated on the road. In a rich class of company within the conference, be ready for a spirited battle between these two foes.

With the conference Conference playoff positioning on the line, Big Ten first placed #18 Ohio State (6-1) will play host to fourth placed Michigan State (2-1-2).  Michigan State is only three points behind Illinois, and with the Illini on bye, this would be a great opportunity for the Spartans to tally up some needed points.  Although this feat will not come easy against a very strong and dominant Buckeye squad. OSU’s only loss of the year came to conference rival, Indiana, but will aim in keeping their top-of-the-table position.

Last placed Purdue (0-5) will travel to Madison, WI to play the Wisconsin Badgers (2-5).  The host team has recently endured a four-game losing streak, while the Boilermakers currently have five losses in a row.  Both clubs will be hungry for a much needed victory, especially in a tough Big Ten conference.

LIBERTY

With many season-ending conference matchups afoot in the upcoming weekend, the top-of-the-table teams in each sub-conference are, for the most part, been cemented for playoff seeding.  For many middle-of-the-table clubs, this weekend could send potential shockwaves in a sub-conference shakeup. UConn (0-5) will travel to Boston, MA in their matchup at undefeated Northeastern (6-0), in a Battle of the Huskies.  The Northeastern club have been fairly dominant in their games, with one close 1 point win to Umass earlier in the season.  The undefeated title will be on the line against the Uconn side who will be aiming to not finish at the bottom of their respective sub-conference.

Next up, Rhode Island (2-4) will be on the road at Fairfield (3-3), in a New England regional matchup.  RIU is riding a two-game winning streak and will be vying for the New England fourth place. Fairfield, currently on the third place position, will have no opportunity to move upward or downward with a win or loss, but are determined in finishing their Fall campaign with a bang.

In a potentially big shakeup, seventh placed Empire, Colgate (2-4) will travel to face the fourth placed Empire, Binghamton (3-3).  Colgate, only five standings points behind Binghamton, could potentially shoot up 2-3 spots with a bonus point victory against conference foe, with Cortland and Brockport both on bye week (5th and 6th place Empire teams). Colgate could leapfrog the competition, but will have to overcome the obstacle of a very good Binghamton side.  Unfortunately Binghamton is on a two-game losing streak, and are vulnerable against a feisty Colgate side.

In the final Liberty conference game, host club UMass (2-3) will battle their New England rival, Tufts (1-5).  The Tufts have no shot in chasing Umass positioning in the table, but could help Rhode Island climb their ladder with a potential victory.  Also the Tufts will be looking in not finishing bottom of the their table with a hungry Uconn team vying for the same goal.