This weekend marks the start, or resumption, of conference play throughout a couple conferences as teams come back from winter break. The California, Independent, Mid-South, PAC, and Red River Conferences will all be in play this weekend.
#1 Saint Mary’s will continue their conference schedule against Santa Barbara. Saint Mary’s is coming off back to back wins over D1A opponents, winning both by a margin of at least sixty-eight. Santa Barbara kicked off their Spring season last week against USC. They dispatched of them with relative ease as they pulled away in the second half.
Red River resumes conference play this weekend as defending champions, Baylor, come up against the upstarts, Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have been on the lips of many pundits, as they believe Tech could be the team to win the conference. When asked about the hype head coach, Phil Terrigno, responded: “Texas Tech has made the transition from being a participant to a contender in our competition, so I want the boys to enjoy the progress they’ve made because it is commendable. But, I don’t get the impression that they are satisfied.” Whilst, an early loss in the season to Arkansas could have derailed their season Terrigno sees things differently, using it as a teaching point: “We’ve learned more about the mechanics of playing late in a game.” When asked what they’ll have to win the game shutting down Baylor’s backline was Terrigno’s key: “They have dynamic talents in the backline and if they get loose too often, it will be problematic. More than anything, Baylor has always struck me as a very confident team that believes in itself.”
USC and UCLA will kick off the PAC’s season. They are both coming off less than stellar weekends, USC having lost to Santa Barbara, and UCLA going (1-2) in the Dennis Storer Classic. Given the fierce cross-town rivalry that exists between these two teams, their past results will be irrelevant. Both will be desperate to gain bragging rights and start the conference season off with a win.
In a non-conference match-up, #2 Life University will take on LSU. This will be both teams’ first game of the new year. Life was in fine form during the 2017 Fall, as they went 2-0 defeating the Rugby East Conference Premiers, #9 Penn State 51-34, and sinking #8 Navy 30-0. LSU has won both of their games in the Red River conference comfortably winning 76-12, and 51-15 against Houston and Arkansas respectively.
Grand Canyon will continue its first season in the D1A ranks as they take on #10 San Diego State (SDSU). Grand Canyon is on their heels after a large defeat to #13 Arizona last weekend. They will be expecting a better performance this weekend against SDSU. This will be the first game of the season for SDSU, and with a team chockablock with seniors they will consider themselves a chance to make a run late into the playoffs. Saturday will provide a good test for them.
In another non-conference match-up #4 Cal will take on Cal Poly. Cal is on the back of rampaging their way through the Storer Classic, where they outscored their opponents 240-7 in the course of four games. Cal Poly had an inter-squad scrimmage last week, but the week before they went up against Chico State, and were able to walk away victorious 32-9. Cal Poly begins conference play next weekend.