Week 19 Preview: Mid-South Returns

D1A Rugby: Week 19 Preview: Mid-South Returns
Photo Credit: Lindenwood University Rugby

Conference play kicks things up a notch this weekend with California, Mid-South, PAC Red River and Independents all getting things underway- with one cross over as well. This round will pack a punch with three of the top four teams in the country taking to the pitch.

The toughest conference in D1A, the Mid-South, gets their Spring season underway with two fixtures this weekend. #4 Lindenwood will travel and face a tough test against #10 Arkansas State. The Lions played a tour of Texas last weekend, winning in strong showings against Texas A&M and the University of Texas. The Red Wolves, on the other hand will be playing their first game of 2019. Their last game was back in 2018. In last year’s encounters the Red Wolves failed to score any points against the Lions and will be looking to make up for it in a big way this weekend. The other Mid-South game sees #1 Life traveling to South Carolina to take on Clemson. The last two times these teams met the matches were decided by 60 and 84 points respectively. This weekend should be a routine victory for Life, but Clemson has been improving significantly and this game should be closer than previous outings.

In the PAC Conference, one of the biggest surprises of the season came when Arizona State knocked off Utah in their first match of the year. They return to the paddock for the first time since that outing and face a stiff test in knocking over #2 Cal. Usually dominant, Cal has taken their game to another level this year and are really making their intentions known. In their two matches in D1A competition this year, they have scored a combined 256 points and are yet to concede any. Arizona State will have their work cut out for them. In the other PAC game, UCLA will host Utah. UCLA started their season off with a strong showing against Cal Poly; while Utah will be searching for redemption after losing their opening game of the season.

The marquee matchup this weekend sees, #9 Arizona welcome instate rival #20 Grand Canyon. Arizona has been off to a flying start winning both their opening matches in lopsided fashion. GCU, conversely have been slow in starting off their season. Not in terms of wins and losses, but rather they are yet to fire on all cylinders. They played their opening games last weekend cruising to a 60 point win against Santa Barbara and slogged out a tough win against Cal Poly 32-21. It should be an evenly matched game, with Arizona getting the edge heading into it. However, GCU are certainly upset with how far they have dropped in the rankings and this weekend provides the perfect opportunity to show the voters where they should be ranked.

In the California Conference, Cal Poly will be searching for win number one on the year against Santa Clara. After some tough losses early, Cal Poly seems to have turned a corner and as a team that typically blooms late in the season, this could be a worrying sign for Santa Clara as they look to avoid a 0-3 start. The other game will see San Diego State, looking to recover from a heavy loss last weekend against UCSB, a team that has suffered a string of heavy losses.

Red River is heading to an exciting end to their season, as the Northern Division is locked in a titanic battle to see who will play Texas A&M in the Conference Championship. Oklahoma has an opportunity to wrap their place in the final up with a bonus point win against LSU; while Arkansas will be looking for a bonus point win of their own against Texas. This will be Oklahoma’s last game of the season, with Arkansas playing another fixture next weekend. The two teams are separated by 5 competition points, so a loss would be an enormous detriment to either team. The final game in Red River this weekend will see Baylor take on a resurgent North Texas side.

The final game of the weekend will see Utah Valley play Utah State. Both teams are coming off losses last weekend, and Valley will be looking to get their first win in the David Smyth era.