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Massive Weekend In Big 10

College Men

Massive Weekend In Big 10

Ohio State vs Minnesota from earlier in the season. Allison Bradfield photo.

Three weekends remain in the Big 10 Rugby Conference and the chase is well and truly on for the top two spots.

The teams finishing 1st and 2nd after November 2 will play-off in the conference final. The next two play for 3rd, and so on. So this weekend carries plenty of importance.

Here are the current standings:

Ohio State 3 1 0 192 67 125 3 1 16
Indiana 3 0 0 115 50 65 3 0 15
Michigan State 2 1 1 88 85 3 3 0 13
Illinois 2 2 0 104 104 0 2 1 11
Wisconsin 2 2 0 81 108 -27 2 1 11
Minnesota 1 3 1 92 187 -95 1 0 7
Michigan 1 1 0 57 71 -14 1 0 5
Purdue 0 4 0 70 127 -57 0 0 0

Illinois plays Ohio State in a battle of two of the three top try-scorers in the conference. Luka Pavlakis, who is not nly scoring tries but scoring them at key moments, leads Illinois against Vince Carso and Ohio State. Both of those players, along with Wisconsin's Jack Russell, lead the conference with six tries. Ohio State flanker Ben Richards is right behind at five.

If Illinois wins this game, then the Illini will be 3-2 with 15 or 16 points in the standings. Ohio State would fall to 3-2 with a loss and possibly remain stuck at 16 points. The point being, Illinois could close the gap with a win. 

The Favorites:
Ohio State

Not to be outdone, Michigan State, still shaking their heads at how they could lose a 19-0 lead and end up tying Minnesota 19-19 (the answer, they sat on a 19-0 lead and forgot the game had 40 minutes left), is still in position to be in the top two. The big ask, though, is this weekend against 3-0 Indiana. IU was somewhat disappointed with its inconsistency last year, but is building nicely this year with several first-year players contributing.

Andy Guhl, Gabe Yeoman, and Davey Johnson are forming a pretty effective front row, and it al starts there. But ... if MSU can beat Indiana, then the Spartans will be at 3-1-1 and possibly 1st in the conference. Indiana can absorb the loss, but won't be happy about it.

The Defending Champs:

Even the third game this weekend carries ramifications. because of a weather postponement (Michigan will now play Michigan State November 6), Michigan is only 1-1 and has plenty of rugby to play. Last week's loss to Ohio State wasn't pretty, but the Wolverines could get back in the hunt with a win over Wisconsin this week. The Badgers were also beaten fairly convincingly, but Wisconsin is the defending conference champion, and led by Russell at No. 8, can get back in the conversation with a victory over Michigan.

The Challengers:
Michigan State
Michigan (?)

If that happens, then Wisconsin would need to beat Ohio State and Purdue, and hope Ohio State fumbles against either Illinois State or Michigan State (ideally not both) to get to the final.

But because Michigan State plays both Indiana and Ohio State coming up, and Illinois also faces the Buckeyes, those teams still control their destiny.

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