Along with Ohio State's less-than-dominant 19-18 win over University of Notre Dame, the Badgers' loss raised some questions about the overall strength of the top teams in the Big Ten conference. For Lindenwood-Belleville, this result raises questions about whether beating UW alone is enough to garner some D1AA playoff love.
L-B head coach Pat Clifton said the difference between losing to Indiana and beating Wisconsin was improved play by his team, not due to a dropoff in quality of opponent.
"We're trying to play like the pattern of play that the All Blacks play, but our skills just don't hold up for it," Clifton said. "We're going to keep playing that way, because if we want to be the best team in the country we have to. We're going to keep playing ambitious because our goals are ambitious."
Lindenwood-Belleville prop Hunter Blanchard was a defensive leader, and the Lynx bench showed well. Hooker Pat Donovan is back from injury and also looked solid.
Wisconsin may not have been at full strength, but this was still a solid outing for Lindenwood-Belleville. The Badgers actually took an early 7-0 lead with a Dane Fleck try (converted by captain Ben Lehrmann) before Coleson Warner's try tied the game in the 20th minute. The Lynx then immediately gave up a yellow card when Dane Smidt made an illegal tackle, but they weathered that to get back to full strength.
Soon after, Peter Winkler's try put Lindenwood-Belleville up 14-7 (Ross Brocket converted both).
[tweet url="https://twitter.com/BadgerRug/status/909141524264431616" hide_media="0" hide_thread="1"]
Donovan scored a try just before the break, and then Brocket added one right after to make it 24-7. Wisconsin clawed back with a try from Henry Dean, which was converted by Lehrmann, but tries from Jeremy Lemmon and Quinton Gilligan, with Brocket converting on both, finished off the game.
Sophomore flyhalf Colson Warner joined the team in January and didn't play a lot of 15s until about now. He's basically a first-season player and has settled into his position well.
But the demanding attack pattern is leading to skill breakdowns and mistakes. Clifton said those will, in time, be fixed.
[tweet url="https://twitter.com/Lynxrugby/status/909156118106185728" hide_media="0" hide_thread="1"]
"We're struggling with it," Clifton said. "But our defense is coming together and that took a step forward and we did a good job defensively against Wisconsin. We held onto the ball a little bit better, but defensively it was night and day compared to the Indiana game."
As a D1AA team, the Lynx do not play in a conference and depend on success in an independent schedule to make it to the playoffs. In a sense, then, every game has playoff implications.
Currently 2-1, with a win and a loss against D1A opposition, the Lynx have University of Notre Dame, Davenport, Middle Tennessee State, and Missouri on the slate through the first week of October. After playing Iowa Central Community College and Saint Louis University, L-B finishes the season against Arkansas State University and Lindenwood St. Charles.