The 2-4 IBM Big Blue take on the 2-4 Tokyo Gas Creators Saturday, November 16 in the final round of the Japanese X League regular season.
These two teams have never faced each other before. Tokyo advanced to the X League for the first time last year after winning the Battle 9 and knocking the Lixil Deers out of the wild card playoffs.
IBM, who reached the X Bowl in 2018, have had a tough time of it this season. They lost 42-25 to the Obic Seagulls in their lasting and although they demolished the All Mitsubishi Lions 66-7, last month, they were surprisingly beaten 45-38 by Elecom Kobe Finies and now are in danger of missing the playoffs. Their schedule has included a lopsided loss 55-13 to powerhouse the Fujitsu Frontiers, a solid 41-36 win over Nojima Sagamihara Rise and 42-28 loss to the Panasonic Impulse. So the other losses were against top teams.
For IBM quarterback Kevin Craft who has also taken over as head coach is the leading passer in the country. He has thrown for 1,530 yards and a league-best 18 touchdowns while his Japanese quarterback, Yuki Masamoto has thrown for 357 and three scoresand John Stanton and Katsuhito Omi are the top two receivers in the X League. Stantonhas caught 38 passes for 456 yards and three touchdowns while Omi has 442 yards receiving. Daisuke Yamanaka is Big Blue’s top rusher with 286 yards with Takaki Ito behind him having rushed 41 times for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
Still, the IBM defense has given up 226 points in six games, second worst in the league.
The Creators are playing in the top league in Japan for the very first time and the road has not been easy. They were dropped 65-0 by the powerful Fujitsu Frontiers in their last outing after having beaten the Nojima Sagamihara Rise 15-10 for their second win of the year. They opened the season with a 21-16 loss to the Elecom Kobe Finies and then rebounded by defeating the All Mitsubishi Lions 10-6. They followed that by losing two straight as the Obic Seagulls pummeled them 62-7 and then the Panasonic Impulse blanked them 27-0 before the win over the Lions.
Tokyo quarterback Ikaika Woolsey has thrown for 676 yards and four touchdowns, good for sixth in the league. His top receiver, Daichi Iwakoshi, has 20 catches for 322 yards while running back Andre Whyte leads the team in rushing with 371 yards.
Both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention.