The biggest game of the early college season takes place in Ohio Saturday when ninth-ranked Bowling Green hosts No. 12 Indiana.
Indiana head coach Chuck Fultz, who’s been with the Mudsharks for five years, has never beaten Bowling Green. No current Mudshark player has ever beaten Bowling Green. To say Indiana really wants to beat Bowling Green would be a massive understatement.
“We realize that,” said BGSU captain and outside center Dominic Mauer. “I mean, coming off four Midwest championships, we’d be pretty dumb to think we don’t have targets on our backs, but we prepare for every team the same and go out there and play rugby.”
Saturday’s match against Bowling is just the first of three-consecutive against ranked opponents for Indiana. Next week the Mudsharks travel to No. 8 Miami, and the following week they host top-ranked Davenport.
“My approach is that they’re all equally important and we have to get through the entire month of October. The way our schedule is, every week in October we have a league game,” said Fultz.
“As far as mental preparations and letdowns, we did have a big letdown last year when we lost to Davenport by two points, and that unfortunately transferred into the winter. If we do lose, we can only hope that whoever beats us loses to somebody that we beat.”
If Indiana wants to avoid a similar letdown, Fultz believes they’ll need to slow down Mauer.
“In my estimation, he’s probably their best athlete, and we know he’s playing No. 13. We have one of our best backs across from him. We have a defensive scheme and we have plans, like most teams do, we have plans to deny him ball, we have plans for his anticipated moves,” Fultz said.
If Bowling Green is game planning for anyone, it’s Indiana No. 8 and captain Kyle Strohman. He is an abusive runner from the base of the scrum and a fit to deal with for opposing back rows both offensively and defensively.
Only one team from the Mideast will receive an automatic bid to the round of 16, and that’s the prize Bowling Green, Indiana, Miami and Davenport are fighting for. The bell to signal the first round of that fight rings Saturday in Bowling Green.