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The biggest college match-up in the entire country this weekend takes place in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, as Ohio State hosts Indiana.
The Buckeyes enter the game 1-0 in Big Ten Universities play having beaten Purdue 37-15 last week. Indiana is fresh off of an 85-0 non conference win over Kentucky. They too beat Purdue this fall, walloping the Boilermakers 60-15 in a preseason friendly.
Ohio State edged Indiana 22-21 last fall, but both teams have incurred a lot of turnover from last season.
“Completely different teams,” said Ohio State coach Ron Bowers. “We didn’t even watch that game tape, because we are a completely retooled team and I know they are.
“And we don’t have them on film yet, so it’s kind of an unknown, but I think they’re the team to beat just from seeing their scores and knowing the type of players that are in Indiana with the great high school rugby they got over there.”
IU has gotten to watch Ohio State’s film against Purdue, as DI-A teams are required to share game footage of conference matches.
“Ohio State’s always a good rugby team. They’ve got a similar kind of player pool to us with Westerville and St. Ed’s (High School) over there in Ohio,” said Indiana coach Marcus Hurley.
“They’ve got a great coaching staff, a lot of people that have been around for a long time, so I always give them a lot of credit. We know they’re going to play physical. They’re generally a pack oriented team, so we’ll be mindful of that.”
One of Ohio State’s Westerville products, sophomore No. 8 Santino Cua, had a big opening week for the Buckeyes, scoring two tries in the win over Purdue. This is his first year back playing rugby after giving college football a shot at DII Davidson.
“He’s a great addition,” Bowers said.
One of Indiana’s stud newcomers, scrumhalf Jake Garwood, will most likely be sidelined Saturday, as he suffered a grade-two separated shoulder in last week’s win over Kentucky. He hasn’t been completely ruled out for the Ohio State game, but could miss as many as two weeks.
Garwood is just one of many freshmen who figure greatly into Indiana’s game plan. Hurley, in his second semester as Indiana’s head coach, scored a fantastic recruiting class and will play numerous guys from heralded high school programs like Cathedral and Penn. That, plus time learning Hurley’s system, has Indiana confident heading into the weekend.
“We had what could have been a great team last year. We had a lot of talent, they just didn’t play a very smart or effective brand of rugby, so we’re trying to change all that and we’re getting close. Obvisouly, it’s still early in the season, but the guys have been responding really well,” said Hurley.
“What I saw on the video tape (of Ohio State), I think if our team just sticks with the game plan, our team seems to be performing real well right now.”