Week 18 Preview

D1A Rugby: Week 18 Preview
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BOULDER, Colo. – An automatic spot in the D1A playoffs will be on the line when Oklahoma and Texas Tech battle Saturday. In what has now been deemed a conference championship match by the Allied Rugby Conference, the winner will claim the top spot in the ARC standings. Elsewhere, Lindenwood gets another crack at Life, and Saint Mary’s will not find a pushover when it ventures to southern California to face San Diego State.

Allied Rugby Conference

Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech

The match was originally scheduled for Feb. 8 but was postponed due to weather, and is now acting as the ARC’s Championship match. Baylor, which played its final match last Saturday, currently sits atop the ARC standings. However, the winner of Saturday’s game in Norman, Okla., will overtake Baylor in the standings and be crowned ARC champs.

Oklahoma Head Coach Jason Horowitz is excited to be playing for the conference championship, and anticipates the Red Raiders to pose a challenge for his squad.

“We expect a great group of athletes and leadership in the backfield that has always tested us,” said Horowitz. “There is no doubt that their 10 and winger hook up real well, and their 15 has some playmaking ability.”

Luckily, the Sooners have a player with serious playmaking abilities of its own. Michael Al-Jiboori has seen time at both flyhalf and fullback for Oklahoma, and the speedster also has plenty of experience at center. Wherever he lines up, Texas Tech will keep its eyes on Al-Jiboori.

Texas A&M vs. Sam Houston State

There might be some additional passion on the pitch when the bottom two teams of the ARC line up this Saturday. Neither Texas A&M nor Sam Houston have won a conference match this spring, so the incentive of going out with a victory would help relieve what have otherwise been difficult seasons for the two programs.

Mid-South

Life vs. Lindenwood

The last time these two teams faced off, Lindenwood had the No. 2-ranked D1A team on the ropes. Life’s Joe Cowley put a couple of penalties through the uprights to fend off the Lions and avoid the upset. In what was supposed to be the curtain raiser for the Men’s Eagles Rugby World Cup Qualifier against Uruguay, the match has now been moved to the LIFE Rugby Complex. There is a chance of rain in the Atlanta, Ga. area on Saturday, and in an effort to provide a clean pitch for the Qualifier this D1A showdown has been moved away from Kennesaw State’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium.

Arkansas State vs. Davenport

Davenport is still looking for its first Mid-South win, but after playing its first three conference matches on the road, the Panthers will host their final three matches at home. Davenport has the talent to knock off any of the teams that stand ahead of it in the standings. If Arkansas State cannot produce clean ball due to a sturdy Davenport front line, than the Red Wolves might fall victims to Davenport’s first D1A win of 2014.

California

Saint Mary’s vs. San Diego State

The recent scores Saint Mary’s has put up on California’s weaker teams may suggest the Gaels will go undefeated through its conference schedule. San Diego State will provide far greater resistance than what Saint Mary’s has faced the past few weeks when the Gaels beat UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis by a combined 232-7.

San Diego State has the advantage of playing at home, plus the Aztecs seem to have regrouped well with two convincing wins following a tough loss to Santa Clara.

West

Wyoming vs. Colorado State

Competition in the West has been tight thus far, and expects to stay that way. Colorado State is off to an unfortunate start of 0-2 despite playing well in each match. A loss by the Rams might dig too deep of a hole and all but eliminate them from playoff contention. Wyoming, on the other hand, would move to 2-1 with a victory and keep the 3-0 Colorado Buffaloes from running away with the conference.

Non-conference Matches

Wheeling Jesuit vs. Michigan State

Purdue vs. Ball State