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DI College Fall Rankings #1

  • 26 Sep 2018

NIRA’s Army vs. Navy / Photo: Colleen McCloskey (see more)

The DI College Fall Rankings are sticking with a Top 10, as opposed to Division II’s 20 – sheerly for the number of teams competing toward the fall championship. Prior to the review of teams included, here are some notes on those excluded:

  • NIRA (varsity), DI Elite and DI teams that are ultimately vying for the spring championship (so while conferences like the Mason-Dixon or teams like BYU are competing now, they will never face the ranked teams in a post-season scenario for 15s);
  • Ivy League, which fields a varsity competition and a club competition, the winner of which will advance to the DII fall playoffs; Princeton will not apply for a DI at-large bid; and
  • Penn State, the perennial Big 10 conference winner who regularly defers its berth to the DI fall championship so it can contest the DI Elite championship in the spring.

That leaves the Big 10, Midwest, Northeast, Rocky Mountain, Texas Rugby Union (TRU) and independent teams. The Big 10 is still missing Ohio State and Rutgers, and the Midwest lost UW Milwaukee from league play this year. The Northeast is still six teams strong, and the independents include Davenport University, Navy and Kent State.

Rocky Mountain has added Utah Valley back in and promoted Wyoming for an eight-team league, and BYU is playing a significant amount of non-league games to add some elite competition. The previously named “Lone Star” conference has reunited under the Texas Rugby Union banner, and the Texas and Oklahoma teams have consolidated into a nine-team DI league, while developing and NSCRO teams play a fall 7s circuit. There is no TRU DII.

And now for the rankings! Davenport, the reigning DI fall champion, has earned the right to debut at the top. All of the Michigan team’s games are being counted in its record since it’s independent. Last year, Air Force gave the Panthers the toughest game, so they’re starting in second. The academy team took a tough loss to BYU, which dropped from DI Elite to DI (spring) this season.

Notre Dame comes in third and is coping with the loss of some key graduates, but the bones are there for another good year (read more). Michigan State gave the Irish a good push and take the 10th spot.

UCONN has gone relatively unchallenged in the Northeast for years now and got started with a 70-0 win over Boston College. Northeastern put up similar numbers and has close to 50 players registered, making the rankings early on. Boston University is 2-0, outscoring URI and UMASS 92-5, and on the very short watch list.

Minnesota has also demonstrated its dominance in the Midwest and shows no signs of slowing after two shutouts against Northern Iowa (67-0) and Wisconsin (109-0). All of these teams then get to the Fall Round of 8 – where the DI fall post-season begins – and have to make a big adjustment to the competition level.

In the Rocky Mountain there’s some parity below the Air Force level, but the teams are so stretched by geography that two pools exist. Utah State recorded a stunner against Montana State (read more), and that home-field advantage goes a long way. Both the Bobcats and Colorado, which beat New Mexico 71-22 on the road, are also on the watch list.

Finally, Navy, the second independent on the list, has the freedom to select its level of competition. The Midshipmen interweave DII, Mason-Dixon, NIRA, Gold Coast and two service academies into their schedule, right up to the Nov. 17-18 Fall Round of 8/4. The Annapolis school took a tough loss to Army last weekend, but the result wasn’t surprising given the Black Knights’ attributes.

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