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DI College Spring Ranking #3

  • 12 Feb 2019

Stanford had its hands full with Humboldt. / Photo: Jackie Finlan

When it’s only three weeks into a ranking, it’s common to see big rearrangements as teams show themselves. But as previously mentioned, the spring process is different than the fall process. There are split-season and spring-only teams building toward the spring championship, and so they’re at different stages of development during that January-February time period especially.

The Pacific Mountain Rugby Conference’s West always draws attention as these teams have the ability to trade wins and losses. Week to week, that can mean rearranging their top-three teams in the rankings. Over the course of a season, however, it’s a big reason why this league does well in the playoffs: They’re perpetually challenged.

And it’s not just the top-three teams; they’re all threats. Humboldt State gave Stanford a big scare at Steuber Rugby Stadium. Once the Lumberjacks got into a rhythm, sending its bigger ballcarriers through the line and offloading until the outside opened up, they exposed some deficiencies in the Stanford defense. And the Cardinal nearly cracked UC Davis, using the muddy conditions as an opportunity to solidify its pick-and-go game. The Aggies had to step up, and they did, exchanging the lead throughout the game. The teams scored four tries apiece, and a Davis conversion was the difference.

So it’s early in the season for the Pacific Mountain and everywhere else, except the Mason-Dixon, which is in the second half of its season. They may be shaking off the winter frost, but they had some answers to take into the break and are in a different place right now. Virginia Tech and UVA got the job done against James Madison and East Carolina, respectively, and held their opponents to a try each.

So consistency wins in round three of the rankings, although there is a compromise, as we weren’t fully ready to rank two Mason-Dixon teams above all of the Pacific Mountain teams. Virginia Tech gets a bump, and the field eagerly awaits the rematch against UVA on Feb. 23. The Pacific Mountain nestles closer together, and consequentially, Central Florida moves into second, even though it, too, is young in its season. And while Eckerd is a DII team, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Sirens finished second overall in Florida. Mike Geibel reported that UCF is still very, very good, even with some of its stars having graduated.

There’s less volatility in Pacific Desert in that Grand Canyon and UC Santa Barbara are the favorites for a title showdown. We resisted the temptation to swap them on the rankings, as the Lopes are solid and have kept points-against to 12 or fewer so far. UCSB has seen two opponents earn bonus points for tries, including Saturday’s CSU Northridge, so they’ll stay put for now. They face off this weekend, so that result will be quell any argument.

Pacific Mountain North had all three games canceled due to snow and enter a league-wide bye this weekend.

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