BOULDER, Colo. – The fall semester of the D1A season is beginning to wind down as the West has already completed the fall portion of its schedule, and the Big Ten Universities and Rugby East concluding their conference schedules this week. With limited college rugby matches slated from now to the New Year, rugby fans will want to relish this week’s action.
The BTU Championship is not only a match between Ohio State and Wisconsin to decide the Conference Champion, but a series of matches, including B-side games, to determine the final league standings.
Purdue vs. Illinois (7th place game)
Both teams enter their final match of the year 1-6. However, each team picked up its lone victory via forfeit by Nebraska. Illinois has played a number of teams tighter than the Boilermakers, but both teams should be desperate to end their season in the win column.
Michigan State vs. Minnesota (5th place game)
Minnesota was playing for a spot in the BTU Championship Final all the way through the end of the regular season. Even following an improved season by the Gophers, they find themselves playing for fifth place in the BTU. Michigan State was on the verge of a 2-0 start in conference play before Minnesota exploded for 21 unanswered second-half points to steal its Sept. 27 matchup, 26-17. Although the encounter occurred nearly two months ago, don’t expect the Spartans to have forgotten about the aforementioned result.
Iowa vs. Michigan (3rd place game)
Iowa may have been the surprise team in the BTU this fall. The Hawkeyes finished the regular season with 21 points – just one behind Ohio State, who will play for the BTU Championship Saturday. Michigan appears to be the more athletic and experienced team, but their mindset has to be in question after a disappointing loss last week to Ohio State. If the Wolverines are still pining for a spot in the BTU Final instead of being focused at the challenge at hand, Iowa will punish them.
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin (BTU Rugby Conference Championship)
See D1A Rugby’s full preview of the BTU Championship match between Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Penn State vs. Iona
Given the standards at Penn State, a fall in which the Nittany Lions went winless against Army and Kutztown has to be disappointing. Still, Penn State currently sits at No. 8 in the Canterbury D1A Top 20 and looks well on its way to receiving a bid for the D1A Playoffs. However, an upset loss to Iona would put the Nittany Lions’ playoff hopes in serious jeopardy. Iona, meanwhile, has played as well as one could have expected given the team’s inexperience in Rugby East. A win at home against Penn State would surely be the highlight of the team’s inaugural season in the conference.
Texas A&M vs. Texas
Oklahoma’s 5-0 mark in the Red River has already cemented another Conference Championship for the Sooners. For the rest of the Red River, teams will be jockeying for position in the standings, as well as national recognition. No team behind Oklahoma has yet to stand out as a playoff-caliber team. If Texas A&M, who is coming off of a win over Texas Tech, can defeat the Longhorns, then A&M has a good chance of cracking the Top 20.