JB’s Picks (March 16)

Jarrod Beckstrom is a globally nomadic sports-addicted renewable energy advocate fisherman. He’s the former communications manager of USA Rugby and has been covering high school, college, and international rugby since 2004. His opinions and picks don’t necessarily reflect the views of USA Rugby or D1A Rugby. Follow him on Twitter (@willcrawlthere). He welcomes well-informed and civil rugby discourse. BOULDER, Colo. — A lot going on this week. The East Conference gets going with Kutztown traveling to Delaware and the West Conference will try once again to kickoff conference play Saturday after a snowstorm spoiled their slated season opener last weekend. California has some interesting matchups, but I see St. Mary’s and Cal Poly winning out. The Allied Conference is off this week, time I’m sure the players will need after a grueling start to the season. Here are my shots in the dark for this week: CALIFORNIA Cal Poly @ Santa Clara Pick: Poly. The Mustangs nearly knocked off the #3 team (St. Mary’s) in D1A last week and they are playing some good rugby. Santa Clara is improving, but not at the rate Poly is. Sac State @ Stanford Pick: Sac State. Stanford burned me last week when I picked them to beat Davis, but that is not why I’m picking Sac State. They have had a baptism by fire in D1A playing St. Mary’s, Cal Poly, and Central Washington in the first stages of the season. I’m sure it wasn’t a lot of fun, but they gutted it out and gave Poly a good game a few weeks ago. They are a team that is stepping up and benefiting from the high level of competition in California. San Diego State @ St. Mary’s Pick: St. Mary’s. SDSU’s backs are good, but containing Kingsley McGowan, Bubba Jones, and Garrett Brewer is a tall order for any team. St. Mary’s had a bit of a scare last week squeaking by Poly 41-31 and head coach Tim O’Brien will demand a far better performance out of his squad this weekend. UC Davis @ UCSB Pick: UCSB. The Gauchos are finding their feet in D1A and while it might be too late this season, they are on the right track to becoming a very competitive team in the conference next season and beyond. EAST Kutztown @ Delaware Pick: Delaware. They’ve got weapons all over the park and they’ve made an effort to play some tough games. If this game was three weeks into conference play, my pick might be different. But right now, the Blue Hens’ match fitness is there and they’ve been physically and mentally tested early on, which bodes well for their East season. MID-SOUTH/EAST Davenport @ Arkansas State Pick: Arkansas State. ASU is flying high after beating rivals Life last weekend in Jonesboro. Davenport will be greatly improved since their first conference game against Life two weeks ago, but ASU has too much depth and are playing an exciting brand of positive attacking rugby. Life @ Penn State Pick: Life. Listen, the Running Eagles are going to win. But a lot should be said for Penn State. They are going out and looking for tough games. No filler for those boys. They took some licks on their California tour (the played Cal and St. Mary’s) and they said ‘thank you sir, may I have another’ and are now hosting Life in State College. You’ve got to love a team that seeks out top competition. WEST Colorado @ Northern Colorado Pick: Colorado. This is going to be very close. NC has always been one of the top teams in the Front Range and CU is always in that mix as well. These teams know each other well, but I’m going to give the edge to CU.