The College Premier Division means different things to different teams, now. The top programs have, for the most part, done their job and won their games and moved to the top, while others have struggled to find wins.
But getting a win, or some other type of victory (a close loss, an improved performance) is perhaps the more important job of the CPD. Everyone has their goals.
“We want to finish 3-3,” said LSU Head Coach Scott McLean, who saw his Tigers win their first game of the season last weekend, 39-5 over Oklahoma. “I am pleased to see how the guys have kept working and looking forward.”
Oklahoma were unlucky to lose star forward Taylor Mokate to a knee injury that could keep him out for the rest of the season. But injuries are part of the game, and LSU benefitted from getting a player back from injury, as Bobby Johns returned to full strength.
“Having Johns back helped us a lot and this was also the last home game for the seniors, so they were fired up,” said McLean. “Things just clicked.”
At Ohio State, Head Coach Tom Rooney is still looking for that click. But while the Buckeyes are 0-4, they have earned three bonus points, one for this past weekend’s close loss to Penn State and twice for scoring four tries in a game.
“In every game we were in it,” said Rooney. “But we’re a young team and we’ve made young team errors. We’re in the game, or leading and then we have 12 to 15 minutes where we kind of let things slide. Against Penn State, they didn’t do that. They shut them down defensively the whole game, and while we lost, 22-17 shows they were in it the whole time.”
Rooney said the CPD is like playing a Sweet 16 game every weekend, and it’s been an eye-opener for his players. The key thing is, have those players learned from it and kept plugging away? Rooney says yes.
“This has been a lot of fun, we have a lot of young players who will be back and who are targeting a good finish,” he said. “The only game we really let get away from us was Kutztown.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Ohio State, who host Army and then visit Dartmouth before ending the season against Rutgers in Columbus. Meanwhile LSU finishes at Tennessee and then Texas A&M.
In all, there are 12 teams in the CPD who are either winless or have records of 1-3 or 1-4. Several can still target a .500 or better season as a goal, while others are still looking just for a win to hang their hats on. As the coaches said, it’s a journey.