BOULDER, Colo. – Four matches out of the Big Ten Universities are on tap for Oct. 3, including a potential BTU Championship preview between No. 10 Indiana and No. 17 Michigan. Wisconsin, which made positives strides in this week’s D1A Top 20, will have an opportunity to move up again in the rankings after facing Minnesota (0-1). As for Iowa hosting Illinois, it’s anybody’s match.
Purdue vs. No. 19 Ohio State
The Boilermakers were expected to be a stronger club on the pitch this season. After dropping its conference opener to No. 10 Indiana, 92-0, onlookers are still seeking proof of improvement. Saturday’s match marks Purdue’s first chance to play at home, which should help its cause. Still, Ohio State is coming off of a quality performance in its 57-10 win over Illinois, and will present plenty of challenges for the Boilermakers.
One player to keep an eye on will be Buckeye speedster Jojo Eramo. The winger scored a hat trick last week, and has improved his offloading and defense in the offseason.
No. 17 Michigan vs. No. 10 Indiana
A season after falling to Indiana on the road, 19-17, Michigan would love to avenge the loss Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich. Read a full preview on the Top 20 clash here.
No. 15 Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
Iowa was expected to drop off a bit after finishing third in the Big Ten last season, but Wisconsin’s 87-0 win over the Hawkeyes last week was still an eye-catching score line. For the Badgers, it was the Crass Brothers who had the biggest impact during the dominating win over Iowa. Hunter Crass, the team’s eight man, scored two tries in each half, while Tyler Crass spent the 80 minutes putting both forwards and backs into gaps, and managed to score his own try at the 62nd minute.
The Gophers will be wise to not place too much attention on the Crass brothers, though. Wisconsin has a plethora of option in attack, and can hurt a team from any corner of the park. After giving up 65 points to Michigan State two weeks back, Minnesota will really need to tighten the screws on its defensive alignment in order to prevent the Gophers from running wild in Madison, Wisc.
Iowa vs. Illinois
The top half of the BTU is looking as strong as ever, and that’s what makes matchups like Iowa versus Illinois so important. Both sides will be fighting for legitimacy in the middle of the conference, making each winnable game vital to the team’s outlook.
Last week’s beat down at the hands of Wisconsin was a game to forget for Iowa, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the film from last Saturday was thrown out. The Hawkeyes are young, but still plenty capable of playing better than they did in their BTU opener.
Illinois is also talented enough to play better than it did last week – a 57-10 final that went to Ohio State. Improving its team performance will be difficult without the services of Matt Ramsey. The Fighting Illini’s fly half, who went down with a knee injury against the Buckeyes and is out indefinitely, is not only the team’s leader and assigned captain, but the best player, as well. After Illinois’ first two conference matches, Ramsey accounted for 23 of his team’s 33 total points. Mario Lozano appears to be the answer in the No. 10 jersey, but others in orange must step up in Ramsey’s absence.