Week 8 Preview: Pivotal Weekend For Conference Leaders

D1A Rugby: Week 8 Preview: Pivotal Weekend For Conference Leaders
Photo Credit: University of Michigan Rugby Football Club

It is a quiet week in terms of the number of games being played this weekend, but there are still plenty of crucial matches taking place. The majority of games this weekend will have significant impact on each conference championship. 

In Rugby East Action #14 Notre Dame College takes on #6 Army. This will be a pivotal game for Notre Dame, as they need to maintain their position in the rankings to help put them in the best position for Playoff qualification in the Spring; while for Army, they continue to look sharp as ever. The Black Knights will use quality opposition, such as this, to prepare them for what is shaping up to be the conference decider next weekend against #5 Penn State. The other game will see the newest member of the Top 10, Kutztown, taking on Wheeling Jesuit. It will be an intriguing game, as Wheeling Jesuit has shown glimpses of what they can be; but as of now, are yet to put it together for eighty minutes. Kutztown will need to be 100% focused so they don’t fall this weekend.

Two Crossover matches between the Rugby East and Liberty Conferences will be played this weekend. #5 Penn State will head to New Rochelle, New York to take on the #15 Iona Gaels. Both teams have been in excellent form this year. Iona has played a stacked schedule against some of the best teams in the country, and while they have not enjoyed as much success as they may have liked, the Gaels have proved they can play with the best in the country. Penn State similarly to Army, will relish the opportunity for a high-quality contest before heading into next weekend’s conference decider.  The second will see Buffalo taking on Colgate.

Liberty will see teams continue to solidify their positions in attempts to keep the pressure on the divisional leaders. Syracuse, who now has the outright lead in the Empire will take on Albany, a team that has been full of surprises all year. Binghamton looks to rebound against Cortland, after losing to Syracuse last weekend. Two bits of action in the I-95 conference sees Stony Brook playing Rutgers; and Delaware taking on Fordham. Up in New England Boston College looks to keep the pressure on UMass when they play Tufts; and Northeastern will try to get one over Fairfield.

The Big 10 will be highlighted by the Battle for the Mitten on Friday night, between Michigan and Michigan State. A student organized event that promises to be a great showcase both on and off the field. In other games, Indiana will look to end their two-game losing skid and bounce back against Illinois; while, #16 Wisconsin and Ohio State will go toe-to-toe. The Badgers are undefeated, but this promises to be their biggest challenge yet, as Ohio State will be brimming with confidence, after landing a massive win against Indiana last weekend to get their season back on track.

A quiet weekend in the Rocky Mountains will see #7 BYU take on Air Force, a game which will test both teams and show what is in the cards for their seasons. The second game will see Wyoming and Utah State battling each other.

There are Three games taking place this weekend in the Red River. Oklahoma will look to continue their hot run of form against North Texas, in their first game of the season and first game at the D1A level. Arkansas will look to keep pace with Oklahoma in the south division, but will face a tall ask as they face Texas A&M’s Aggies. The Aggies have dominated their competition this season and in their two conference games thus far have outscored their opponents 121-10. The final game will see the Aggies closest competitor in the North division, Baylor take on Texas Tech. Baylor is coming fresh off an impressive debut performance beating Texas 68-5.