Oklahoma will travel to West Point to take on Army in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. The Sooners will be looking to leave a mark on this year’s Varsity Cup after missing out last year due to a suspension.
The Midwest school has bounced back nicely after undergoing a coaching change after returning from suspension. The Sooners have only lost two games this season, both coming to undefeated teams, LSU and Tennessee.
Finishing second in the Red River Conference, Oklahoma beat the likes of TCU, Texas and Texas A&M. Along with a successful tour in Jamaica, the Sooners are ready to travel to West Point. While the weather in Jamaica and Oklahoma has been extremely warm this time of year, the Sooners are headed for a cold northeast spring.
“I tell you right now it is 86. I think the guys will be welcoming the cooler temperature. Although, it is a little bit of a shock…..We toured Jamaica over spring break and it was hot there so I think the guys are probably going to be happy that its not 85 or 90,” said Oklahoma coach Doug Neubauer.
Even with the cold weather, Oklahoma is excited to make the trek to West Point. With one member of the team being an ROTC member and the women’s team being coached by a West Point grad, the team is looking forward to a tour of the facility and a matchup with the cadets. The Sooners know it will be a tough task to come across the country and win but believe they are up to the challenge.
“There coach is well qualified. They are well drilled. They are very disciplined. We are going to have to match it and hopefully make better decisions to come out on top,” Neubauer said.
Army has been on a streak of late, knocking off rival Navy and Utah in consecutive weekends. After losing to BYU on the road, the Black Knights came back to beat the Utes and carried that momentum into a road victory over Navy.
“We have been an improving team recently and that’s been the most pleasing thing to us,” said Army coach Matt Sherman. “We have been improving in moments on the field and improving with our resilience and our composure as well.”
The loose forwards drive the Army team and along with the halfback combination of Jake Barnahall and Andrew Borer, allow the team to effectively run its pattern. Peter Basnight captains the team at number 8 while Ben Lemon and Andrew Irwin lead the way defensively.
“Our back row as a whole has founds its form recently,” Sherman commended.
Army is hoping to come away a victory in its first ever Varsity Cup game. Playing an unfamiliar opponent, however, provides an opportunity and a challenge.
“It is exciting and it’s daunting at the same time. It is exciting to play a name brand school from the Midwest and a program that has been strong for decades,” said Sherman. “They are a reputable program…They have beaten very good teams and we expect a very strong opponent.”