Three teams in the D1A top 20 standings head in to non-conference play this weekend out West, including two games in three days for Lindenwood against Colorado and No. 15 Air Force. Elsewhere, No. 1 Cal travels to Cal Poly this Saturday, as well as a matchup between No. 10 Arkansas State and No. 18 LSU.
#6 Lindenwood vs. #15 Air Force and Colorado
Lindenwood hits the road beginning with Colorado Thursday night in Boulder. Two days later, the team will head south to Colorado Springs to square off against the Falcons.
The Lions are coming off a home loss against Central Washington by a final of 19-3, the team’s first game in nearly two months. Defensively the team kept the Wildcats at bay, holding them to only seven points in the first half. A successful penalty kick was the lone score in the contest for the home team, despite several offensive opportunities in the game that the Lions could not cash in.
“We scrummaged well against a much larger team, our guys clearly understand the big picture on both sides of the ball, and we took steps toward being the team we want to be,” head coach Joshua Macy admitted. “In the end, however, it always comes down to individual execution. I’m confident our players can tighten that up.”
Macy commended senior prop Toma Ghattas for his prominent effort in the scrum in the contest, as well as 8-man Wes Parker for his leadership on the field.
Coming in to this weekend on a short turnaround, on top of two games in 48 hours in high altitude, that leadership will play bigger dividends this weekend. This, in addition to potential travel lag is a recipe for a disadvantaged start for the Lions, but Macy added that does not mean much to a large, determined squad looking to rebound.
“It’s a grind, but we have the depth,” he commented. “Lots of guys will get a chance to play and I’m always trying to give guys opportunity to put their hands up and get picked. This is a big eager team, and tough situations excite tough people.”
Colorado themselves will come in to the matchup with Lindenwood having not played since a 62-37 loss in November against New Mexico. The Buffs got off to a slow start in that game, having allowed three tries and conversions in the opening 15 minutes, and was a hole they could not recover from. Despite the loss, five separate players tallied tries for the Buffs, including two each by center Cameron Walker and scrum half Nathan Gasser.
Transitioning to Air Force, the Zoomies sit at 4-1 in the West Conference, three points ahead of No. 12 Colorado State. They are coming off a 55-0 loss to No. 3 Saint Mary’s, and aim to recover versus a tested Lindenwood team.
#1 Cal vs. Cal Poly
The PAC and California conference meet Saturday afternoon when the Mustangs travel to Berkley to face top ranked Golden Bears. It will be the final non-conference clash for Cal Poly before California Conference play begins next week. This was not originally the case, but due to inclement weather in the region, Cal Poly’s matchup with Sacramento State was subsequently postponed to a date that is still to be determined. Because of this, the Mustangs come in to Saturday’s game after falling to No. 4 BYU 86-3.
So far in 2017 Cal Poly has recorded one try in their game versus San Diego State. Meanwhile, Cal comes home following a 65-21 win over Santa Clara.
#10 Arkansas State vs. #18 LSU
These two teams previously met in October, with the Red Wolves claiming victory over the Tigers 45-5. Since that game both squads have continued to make statements in the D1A Rankings. Arkansas State is 4-2 since that fall meeting, outscoring opponents 272-56 in those six games. Their most recent win was over in state rival Arkansas 48-15 last week.
LSU meanwhile has been 6-0 and has outscored opponents 373-64. Their previous game against Texas contributed popping up two places in the Top 20. Over the last two matches senior 8-man Todd Dupre and junior flanker Brennan Falcon have been exceptional for the purple and gold, having registered five tries each in that span.
Both teams have risen in the D1A Top 20 in recent weeks, and while the Tigers have revenge on their minds, both teams have the goal of ranking higher by the end of this weekend. And with playoffs right around the corner, this could also act as a momentum and preparation motivation for both teams.
Saturday’s match can be streamed live at GiftTimeRugby.com.