Week 18 Preview: Top Teams Face Tough Tests

D1A Rugby: Week 18 Preview: Top Teams Face Tough Tests
Photo Credit: Karen Drinkwater

Another exciting weekend of rugby lies ahead in the D1A realm, with three of the four best teams in the country stepping foot onto the paddock once more.

The weekend kicks off with #3 Lindenwood kicking their tour of Texas off with a game against Texas A&M on Thursday. Texas A&M are coming in hot after completely dismantling Texas, 98-3. They will have a tougher time of it this weekend when they take on the Lions. This will mark the second time in three weeks the Aggies have gone up on of the top three teams in the country, having previously fallen to Life. Expect this game to be closer than the Life outing, but Texas A&M will have to play a near perfect game if they are to cause the upset. After Thursday’s game, Lindenwood will then travel to play Texas on Saturday.

Following Thursday’s match, #20 Grand Canyon will kick off their California tour with a match against Cal Poly on Friday. It will be the first game of the year for GCU, as their opening game was delayed due to uncontrollable travel issues. Cal Poly have well and truly got their season underway and it has not gone to script, losing their first two games by considerable margins. They will be desperate for a win here, for a loss could put any hopes of a playoff berth in serious jeopardy. Grand Canyon, after their match on Friday will play again on Sunday against UC Santa Barbara, who will be looking to bounce back from a rather emphatic loss at the hands of Saint Mary’s.

Two of the biggest games of the weekend see #4 Saint Mary’s take on a new look Utah Valley squad. Last year Utah Valley yo-yoed in and out of the Top 20, but with the addition of former BYU Head Coach, David Smyth, they will be searching for more consistency. Saint Mary’s, so far this season, have been as consistent as possible, demolishing all four of their opponents by 50 or more points. It will be a tough test first up for Utah Valley, but this has the potential to be the toughest game of the season so far for the Gaels. The other big game will see two of California’s traditional rugby powers, #2 Cal and San Diego State play each other. Cal was phenomenal last weekend putting up 136 points against UC Davis; meanwhile, SDSU were not at their best against a strong Arizona squad- losing by 35 points. Cal will not be an easy rebound game for the Aztecs, but these two programs are very familiar with one another, so Cal will know not to take anything for granted.

In Red River play, Texas A&M will go to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech. The Aggies will be coming into the contest liking their chances, having won their last three games on the trot, while Tech are still searching for their first win of the season. North Texas will try to keep their new found momentum going when they play Oklahoma. The Sooners are coming into the weekend fresh off claiming first in the North Division after beating, the previously undefeated, Arkansas. This will be a true test of just how much North Texas has corrected their course in 2019. The final game in Red River will see Baylor and LSU face off for the second week in a row. Last week saw Baylor win a shoot out 44-33.

Rounding out this weekend’s games will be the newly crowned #10 Arizona, hosting Utah State; and Santa Clara traveling to UC Davis as both teams look for win number 1 on the season.