It’s Bowl Dual Series weekend for many, with the Oklahoma State-Penn State dual in Stillwater, Oklahoma, expected to be epic. Virginia Tech-Nebraska and Ohio State-Cornell could also provide some major individual matchups with NCAA seeding implications. The Bowl Dual Series, run by the NWCA, includes eight duals with eight Big Ten schools traveling after hosting all eight meets in 2016. Host schools in 2017 are: South Dakota State, Lehigh, North Carolina State, Edinboro, Cornell, Appalachian State, Oklahoma State and Virginia Tech.
1 – Penn State: The Nittany Lions wrapped up a 13-0 dual season last weekend, outscoring Illinois and Maryland 79-13. A much-anticipated meet with Oklahoma State awaits Sunday in Stillwater for the championship of this season’s version of the NWCA’s Bowl Dual Series. PSU beat a banged-up Cowboy squad in State College last season and may be better than the 2015-16 team.
2 – Oklahoma State: The Cowboys hammered Wyoming and Oklahoma in preparation for their date with PSU. Sophomore 157-pounder Joe Smith returned to the mat on Sunday, but minus heavyweight Austin Schafer (18-1) beating their guests will be a tall order. However, OSU rarely loses inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
3 – Iowa: Wrestling fans wanted Iowa and Virginia Tech, but instead got a Hawkeye-Edinboro match in the Bowl Dual Series. Iowa (12-2) finished its dual campaign last weekend with wins over Indiana and Nebraska. Head coach Tom Brands is reminding his squad about a Bowl Dual Series loss to North Carolina State a year ago. Fortunately, the Fighting Scots are not as deep as the Wolfpack of 2015-16. That being said, Edinboro gave Oklahoma State a scare in McComb Fieldhouse.
4 – Ohio State: The Buckeyes wrapped up an 11-2 campaign with victories over Nebraska and Minnesota. OSU travels to Ithaca, New York, on Sunday to face Cornell in a very tasty Bowl Dual Series match. Two national champions should go head-to-head at 184 pounds with CU’s Gabe Dean and OSU’s Myles Martin, the champion at 174 in 2016. At 174 pounds, Bo Jordan and Brian Realbuto could hook up. Both red-clad squads are tournament-heavy and may or may not suit up their full complement of starters.
5 – Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech lost to Missouri back on Nov. 20 for its only loss in 16 duals in 2016-17. The Hokies beat a good North Carolina State team and will host Nebraska in another good matchup in this weekend’s Bowl Dual Series. The Huskers are 3-0 all-time against Tech, but none of those Blacksburg-located teams were as good as the latest version. This dual will feature plenty of heavy-hitters including Joey Dance and NU’s Eric Montoya going at it at 133 pounds and Husker senior T.J. Dudley facing talented sophomore Zack Zavatsky at 184 pounds.
6 – Nebraska: How’s this for battle-tested? Mark Manning’s Huskers lost at home to Ohio State last Friday and fell to Iowa on Sunday in Iowa City. Up next is a trip east to face Virginia Tech. NU’s other setback in 2016-17 came to Penn State in early January.
7 – Cornell: Coming off claiming its 15th straight Ivy League title, Cornell (12-2) is getting into March form as usual. The Big Red have wins over Rutgers and Lehigh with losses to Oklahoma State and Missouri. Again, Dean-Martin and Realbuto-Jordan are worth the price of admission.
8 – Missouri: The Tigers stubbed their toes last weekend, falling to Mid-American Conference rival Northern Iowa. MU also has losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Ohio State, but Brian Smith’s team could still be a factor down the stretch. MU is not part of the Bowl Dual Series this weekend and returns to the mat March 4-5 at Cedar Falls for the MAC Championships.
Knocking on the door
North Carolina State, Illinois, Michigan, Lehigh, South Dakota State, Rutgers