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Ten D1A Teams Tha Are Poised To Make A Rankings Move

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Ten D1A Teams Tha Are Poised To Make A Rankings Move

Arizona vs San Diego State in 2017. Connie Hatfield photo.

The D1A rankings have a direct effect on the D1A playoffs, as they are used to seed the playoff tournament, so it's no surprise that some teams are looking very closely at those rankings as the spring season approaches.

You see, at least with this voter, if you're not playing, it is very difficult to move up. As a result, teams that are playing and recording victories, are moving up, and the idles teams are in danger of moving down.

We say in danger, because some programs have such a strong history of success that it is very difficult to move them down. Cal and Saint Mary's are top of that list, and even then Saint Mary's was overtaken by Navy during the fall. So which teams are poised to make a move simply because they are taking the field.

Here, then, are ten teams poised to make a move in the rankings, and why:

Saint Mary's

It's very tough to keep gaining altitude at the top of the rankings, but since Saint Mary's has slipped to #5 there's reason to expect the Gaels to inch into the top three if they keep winning. Their recent victory over the Life West men's team is perhaps the most notable result so far, but really it's all about February 15 against BYU among the early games.

Arkansas State

The Mid-South is largely a Spring conference, but teams all log a few fall league games mostly to accommodate Davenport and, to a lesser extent, Navy. Of all of the teams in the conference, Arkansas State was the only one not to play a conference game. The Red Wolves did suit up a few times, but the bulk of their games, with opportunities to beat the likes of Lindenwood or Life, come this spring.

Davenport

Life and Arkansas State remain on the Panthers' league schedule and so winning either of those games will do a lot to move to them up. This will, in part, dop away the tie with Notre Dame College, and allow Davenport to drift up.

Arizona

Completely idle when it comes to 15s, the Wildcats played some superb 7s in the fall and they have some tight five guys we haven't seen a lot of yet. Teams have moved past Arizona because they played, and now it's Arizona's turn. And they play ranked teams all the way through, so just about every week, starting with San Diego State on January 25, the Wildcats have a chance to move up. Yes they play Cal, but they play Cal in Tucson, and Arizona is thinking about how tough they pushed the Bears last year. Maybe ... maybe?

UCLA

Another team that played 7s all fall, but while Arizona has some stability—Sean Duffy their Head Coach is now officially their Director of Rugby—while there have been coaching shifts among the Bruins. But once again the tough schedule benefits the Bruins. Cal Poly, Cal, Arizona, Saint Mary's, Utah, and San Diego State are all on the slate. Win a good bunch of those games and you move up.

Central Washington

If any observer of college rugby is being honest, he or she has to say that they don't know how CWU will do. The Wildcats are isolated up there in Ellensburg, Wash. They have a lot more college opponents this year than in the past, and that's good news. Why? Because games against club teams don't really tell you much. Playing against ranked college teams does. They will work their way slowly into the games, and so expect to see CWU inch up week after week rather than get that one early win, or loss, that paints the season in a specific color. 

CWU learned that the last couple of years with those early games against Saint Mary's that perhaps undercut the team's confidence. Whether that was the reason or whether it was because the Gaels are going on tour this month, Central plays Saint Mary's late in the season, after facing Arizona, BYU, and Army.

Grand Canyon

GCU is still a building program, and with a new coach in Sean O'Leary, they might need some time. Beat Cal Poly in two weeks and come out of February with two wins out of four, and Grand Canyon can drift up. Then just as you think you've got a handle on the 'Lopes, they play play San Diego State and UC Davis. Those games, as much as any, will decide where GCU ranks.

Texas A&M

An excellent start for the Aggies has set them up for a strong run in the Red River. But that may not be enough. The Aggies need to find a result that dispels their September loss to Clemson, and that requires more than a victory over a strong conference opponent. They've got the opportunity. BYU, Life, Cal Poly, Santa Clara, and Wisconsin are on the Aggies' schedule this spring, and that's all designed to get them ready for playoff rugby.

A good showing against BYU or Life (even if it's not a win) could be enough to move them up.

Oklahoma

Currently 2-0 in the Red River, the Sooners could move up if they keep winning against stronger conference opposition, namely Baylor.

Cal Poly

Have you noticed how many of these teams have their rankings fortunes go through San Luis Obispo? Cal Poly is a team to worry about, and because they have so many ranked teams—GCU, UCLA, Saint Mary's, UC Davis, Texas A&M, and San Diego State—on their schedule, they have an opportunity to move up every week.