1 ― Penn State: Not that the Nittany Lions needed more point potential from another underclassmen in the postseason, but rookie heavyweight Nick Nevills is just that. The Californian missed 90 percent of the season due to injury but returned last week. We may find out just how much he can help the PSU cause this weekend when the Nittany Lions host Oklahoma State and fifth-ranked Austin Marsden for the Bowl Dual Series title bout.
2 ― Oklahoma State: The Cowboys, as expected, outscored Army and Stanford by a combined 77-3 last weekend. Since falling to North Carolina State in December, OSU has won 10 straight. They host North Carolina on Friday, catch a plane Saturday and wrestle Penn State on Sunday. The visitors, despite missing two starters, can win five against unbeaten PSU, but can they withstand the bonus point barrage that has doomed everyone else.
3 ― Iowa: Instead of a 1 versus 2 in the Bowl Dual Series final, being in the Big Ten Conference for once did not help the Hawkeye cause. The top eight Big Ten schools are hosting, so Iowa gets North Carolina State instead. The Wolfpack beat Oklahoma State and has just one loss in 23 duals this season, so it can be argued that the meeting in Carver-Hawkeye next Monday is for No. 1.
4 ― North Carolina State: Pat Popolizio returns to Carver-Hawkeye with unpleasant memories from his competitive days. His Wolfpack negotiated perhaps the toughest schedule among Division I schools with just one defeat, that coming to Virginia Tech last Friday. NC State is no longer under the radar; a win in Iowa City would certainly continue that trend. Superstar Nick Gwiazdowski, however, might not get an opportunity to win this dual.
5― Lehigh: The Mountain Hawks set a school record with a 54-0 blowout of Bloomsburg and won three bouts against Penn State last week. LU travels to Rutgers for a Bowl Dual Series matchup that should go in the visitors’ favor. It is no surprise LU is among the nation’s best and Pat Santoro’s group has a good chance at ending Cornell’s stranglehold on the EIWA trophy in a couple of weeks.
6 ― Missouri: Missouri always seems to be involved in down-to-the-wire dual meets. Add Raleigh, N.C., to the mix as the Tigers fell by one point to their hosts on Sunday. MU gets old Big Eight/Big 12 rival Nebraska in Lincoln for the Bowl Dual Series. A year ago, in another NWCA National Duals format, the Tigers beat Iowa in Iowa City for the crown. The MU-NU clash is certainly an upper-tier bowl.
7 ― Virginia Tech: The Hokies ended North Carolina State’s unbeaten run with a 19-14 victory in Raleigh last Friday. Remember way back in November when Tech lost just 21-15 to the Nittany Lions? A loss to Iowa State in Virginia was a headscratcher ― injuries never help. This weekend Tech travels to Ann Arbor to face Michigan for yet another tasty Bowl Dual Series matchup. If there is a darkhorse down the stretch and in New York City it might be Kevin Dresser and the Hokies.
8 ― Michigan: The Wolverines certainly rebounded from an early-season loss to Oklahoma. Entering Sunday’s meet with Virginia Tech, MU is 13-2 with its other loss to PSU in State College. The 8-1 record against Big Ten foes was the Wolverines’ best in a decade.
Knocking on the door
Ohio State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Cornell, Rutgers