BOULDER, Colo. – The Big Ten season can take a toll on teams, and three will take some time off this weekend in order to heal bruises and nurse wounds. One team, Purdue, may have more recovery to do than most. After being expected to come out a more improved side than last year, the Boilermakers were steamrolled by both Indiana and Ohio State. A week off before playing another D1A Top 20 team in Wisconsin might be exactly what Purdue needs to get back on track.
Another team that won’t see any action this weekend is Wisconsin. There are always tweaks and adjustments that teams can make, but after not letting up a point in its first two games and winning by 87 and 88 points, Wisconsin is right where it wants to be. The Badgers will come back next week to face the Boilermakers in West Lafayette.
Illinois will have another week to savor its 51-10 victory over Iowa and get ready for the Oct. 17 match against Minnesota.
No. 9 Indiana vs. Iowa
Indiana broke into the top 10 in the D1A Top 20 rankings with its 41-7 showing against Michigan, and won’t look to let up this weekend. It is one of the most talented teams in the conference, led by two of the highest scoring players in the Big Ten: Jake Hidalgo and Teddy Terezis.
Meanwhile, Iowa has struggled so far in Big Ten play after losing many players over the offseason. Its young squad is fighting to get back to within the top three teams in the conference. Their game this weekend will provide the Hawkeyes with one of their toughest tests, and will provide the side with a great opportunity to show improvement against one of the toughest teams in the conference.
Minnesota vs. Michigan
Minnesota’s young side has struggled early in the Big Ten season, but the experience grows with every game and its ability to win improves each week. The Golden Gophers weren’t ready for their first match against Michigan State, and had to play defending Conference Champion Wisconsin in their second week. That was a hefty task for Minnesota, but the freshmen are starting to get the grasp of Big Ten competition and now face a Michigan side coming off of a disappointing loss.
The Wolverines had some unfinished business with Indiana, but that will have to wait until next season after the Hoosiers handed them a 41-7 defeat. Michigan is now 1-1, and will be searching for a rebound game to get it back on course. Expect a strong game from the Michigan side, and for the Gophers to give it their all to try to win their first match of the year. The home field advantage might provide Minnesota with the extra kick they need to play some good rugby.
No. 17 Ohio State vs. Michigan State
The Spartans found themselves leading, 14-3, to Michigan last week thanks to the great play of wing Mike Vanderlaan, but faltered in the second half, losing the match, 22-14. Though they came out of the game with a loss, they walked away with a tremendous amount of respect from the Michigan side. If Michigan State wants to send a message to the rest of the conference, it will have to come out against the Buckeyes and play to that same level of rugby for a full 80 minutes.
JoJo Eramo and the Buckeyes have started the season 2-0, and continue to fight to get back in the conference championship game. Michigan State will provide the biggest obstacle for the team before it faces the Badgers later in October in a rematch of last year’s Big Ten Championship game.