Week 26 Preview: Regular Season Going Out With a Bang

D1A Rugby: Week 26 Preview: Regular Season Going Out With a Bang
Photo Credit: Scott Stover

The final weekend of the regular season is here, and with it brings a bill of terrific matchups. There are seven games in total and five of them will, likely, have a big impact on the playoff seedings.

The biggest match of the weekend is, the historic rivalry game in the Bay Area, between #3 Cal and #1 Saint Mary’s. This game is, perennially, a close match up and always produces countless highlights. The two teams are always evenly matched. In the last six games, Cal has won three times and Saint Mary’s has won three times- with the average margin of victory being only 9 points. This year it will be another toughly fought affair. Both teams have been in tremendous form, with each side going undefeated and averaging a winning margin (in conference play) of 104 points for Saint Mary’s, and a hair under 90 points for Cal.  This promises to be another close encounter, with plenty of scoring, and it could very well be a preview for the West Regional Championship, on April 27.

Another massive game this weekend will be another historic rivalry, as Army hosts Navy. Navy, has been looking sharp throughout the Spring, and have gone from strength to strength following a strong Fall. Army, had their best Fall season in a long time, going undefeated in Rugby East. In the Spring, they’ve only played one D1A opponent, Lindenwood, which resulted in a 26-7 loss. They’ve since been on a tour of England honing their skills and look to be ready for a deep playoff push. This weekend, will act as a good signal as to just how far both teams will be able to push into the postseason.

Back out in the West, Grand Canyon will make the trip out to Ellensburg to take on Central Washington. The Wildcats are currently sitting at 11th in the country and look to be knocking on the door to get into the Top 10. Grand Canyon have been a fixture in the Top 20 all year, with a brief stint where they fell out, but have been quietly surging up the rankings in the final weeks. With a win here, Grand Canyon could potentially leap frog quite a few teams and put real pressure on to be the highest wild card seed in the playoffs.

Penn State will travel down to Life this weekend, in the hopes of being the first team since Saint Mary’s in 2017 to beat the Running Eagles. Penn State had a strong Fall, going 5-1, with their only loss coming to Army. This will be the Nittany Lions first game of the Spring and will the best possible way for them to prepare for the playoffs. If they are able to pull off the upset, it will cause major shifts within the seedings.

In the final Mid-South game of the season, Davenport will take on Arkansas State. Davenport, has shown glimpses of brilliance throughout the season, however, they’ve been unable to sustain those moments for a full 80 minute performance. If they are able to sustain those flashes for the duration of Saturday’s game, similarly to Penn State, they will have a huge impact on the seedings heading into the playoffs.

Arizona will finish off their regular season against Utah. It has been a strong season for Arizona, so far; and for Utah, it has been a season below their usual standards. Arizona will be looking to avoid being the victim of an upset and continue their forward progression into the playoffs.

San Diego State will take on Cal Poly to close out the California Conference schedule.