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On a windy Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich., Indiana fought through a field of 12 teams to blow out Illinois in the Cup Final, 54-10, of the Big Ten 7s. This is the Hoosiers' second tournament win in a row after they beat Michigan in the final at Notre Dame two weeks ago. Indiana dominated all day, amassing 253 points in five games and only giving up a total of 34 points.
On his club’s superior performance, Hoosier head coach Sopa Enari said, “The offense worked well. Defense, we were able to shut down some teams. We missed tackles in some of the games, and we are working hard on that, too. Teach the boys and make them understand the concept that sevens is a game of speed and space. We finally got that and worked on our fitness so can we do what we want to do on the field and execute it.”
12 teams were broken into four pools with Michigan State, Michigan, and Western Michigan in Pool A; Iowa, Illinois, and Central Michigan in Pool B; Indiana, Northern Michigan, and Ohio State II in Pool C; and Purdue, Bowling Green, and Ohio State I in Pool D. Michigan, Central Michigan, Indiana, and Purdue won their respective pools to earn a place in the Cup Quarterfinals.
In the first playoff round, Indiana blasted Ohio State II, 52-0; Michigan State beat Central Michigan, 33-12; Illinois edged Michigan, 15-10; and Purdue defeated Ohio State I by two points, 19-17. In the Cup Semifinals, Indiana took care of Michigan State, 52-17, and Illinois beat Purdue, 24-5.
Purdue captured third place with a 14-10 win over Michigan. Ohio State won the Plate after both of its sides beat Central Michigan and Michigan to advance to the Plate Final. The sides didn’t play the final due to injury concerns.
For the Cup Final, Indiana built an impressive 38-0 first-half lead and only allowed 10 points in the second half for the 54-10 victory over Illinois. “A lot of things went in our favor,” Enari said when commenting on the Cup Final. “I think we were more structured than Illinois. The tempo was on our side. I think our boys were more aware of what we wanted to do. We worked very hard preparing for last week and next week. Moving the ball was the key to the victory at the end.”
“Indiana came out pretty fast paced and we were slow to react to them,” Illinois captain John Huguelet said. “With the weather conditions, it was pretty windy. They scored and then kept pinning us back into our 22. We had trouble receiving the ball and they kept pinning us back. Trying to throw the lineout in, it was really windy and we had bad field position, which compounded.”
This tournament was the first of two qualifiers where teams will earn points that will seed them in the Big Ten championship tournament. The second will be hosted by the University of Iowa on April 11th, and the championship tournament will be at the University of Illinois on April 18th.