With the Crimson wrapping up their non-conference schedule with Lehigh, all teams in the Ivy-League are now entering conference play. How teams play for the next five weeks will separate the men from the boy scouts, and thus far, defending champion Penn has emerged as the clear leader of the pack. The best of the rest? Inconsistency has marred every other team. In addition, with key injuries piling up for all teams, there is no telling how the power ranking will change in the following weeks. The amazing race to the Ivy League championship begins now…
Penn (4-1, 2-0) – Can anyone stop this team? Columbia came in with huge momentum following two blowout wins, yet Penn remained unfazed to notch another methodical, mistake-free game. The Quaker defense stifled Sean Brackett all game, and TB Colavita came up big by recording the 1st 100 yd rushing game since October 2009. So far, no team has been able to solve mighty quakers from churning out wins. Now, riding high on a 10 game Ivy League winning streak, they visit the Bulldogs on what could be an interesting matchup. You can’t be that good, right?
NEXT GAME: vs. Yale
Brown (3-2, 2-0) – Providence, we have a problem. The loss of All-Ivy QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero to a season-ending wrist injury is already having an impact on the Ivy League championship race. Brown barely squeezed out a win against the lowly Princeton Tigers but coming back from a 13-0 deficit to win 17-13. Joe Springer is more than a capable QB, but you have to wonder if the offense will ever be the same. I feel like the Bears are always on the cusp of losing… or maybe that is just wishful thinking. In all seriousness, the Brown is the most curious team heading into Ivy League play.
NEXT GAME: vs. Cornell
Yale (4-1, 2-0) – When a team keeps winning, you can’t always blame it on the cha-cha-cha-chance. Yale pulled through over Fordham with a thrilling field goal block of Chris Dooley on what I like to call a “defensive shootout.” Yes, the offenses of both teams was inept much of the game, but you have to recognize that defense wins championships and the Bulldog defense looked like championship material. And they have depth! With Patrick Witt sidelined, Brook Hart stepped in to score the lone touchdown of the game. They are the next contenders on the Defeat Penn Challenge.
NEXT GAME: vs. Penn
Columbia (3-2, 1-1) – Columbia played admirably in a loss to Penn on Saturday. They didn’t get blown out and responded well to the Quaker’s vaunted defense. However, they could be a contender… next year. They have the pieces in play for a great team, but the inexperience definitely came out when the Lions fell behind, and the offense sputtered. Regardless, you can’t drop them for losing to well-oiled machinery that is Penn. They next face the “drop it like its hot” Dartmouth at home which should help the lions come out with the victory.
NEXT GAME: vs. Dartmouth
Harvard (3-2, 1-1) – The Crimson start their most important stretch of the season with a disappointing loss due to a blown call. With less than 2 minutes remaining, Colton and Co. drove down the field, converting several 4th downs to be within striking distance of the end zone, but a TD pass to Mike Cook was called back on out-of-bounds reception. Be that as it may, what was most troubling about Harvard was its inability to close out the game leading 17-0 at the half. Upset-minded Tigers are roaming on the shores of New Jersey to capitalize on The Situation. They almost upset Brown but couldn’t hold on for the win.
NEXT GAME: vs. Princeton
Dartmouth (3-2, 0-2) – The Big Green pulled out a thrilling victory over Holy Cross in game marred by turnovers from both teams. The Crusaders had 4 miscues in the 4th quarter alone, handing the game to Dartmouth on a gilded platter. But kudos to TB Nick Schwiegger who trampled over everyone with 169 yards of the ground. But the sign of a good team and a great team, I think, is the TO margin and Dartmouth is falling a little short in the category. The Big Green is on the very cusp of greatness and the first step begins with a tough road trip to Columbia.
NEXT GAME: vs. Columbia
Princeton (1-4, 0-2) – My sleeper pick of the year came up short against the vaunted Brown offense but there was a lot to like in the Tigers. They started strong and scored 13 unanswered points early in the game. The defense found an answer in stuffing up the pass and rush. For most of the game, the defense came up big time for the Tigers, but with Brown driving up the field in a pressure situation, it was the Bears who had the “eye of the tiger.” Maybe they can finally break through for a marquee win? Did I jump the gun on my sleeper pick sleeping?
NEXT GAME: vs. Harvard
Cornell (1-4, 0-2) – Cornell, again, gets a thumbs up in my book for having the best hospitality in the Ivy League. Besides that, there’s not much else to cheer for. Colgate spanked the Big Red 44-3 like it was the 1950s, with the Raiders rushing for almost 300 yards. Is the season already over in Ithaca? People might begin to question head coach Kent Austin’s decision to start a freshman QB in Jeff Matthews who has largely been ineffective. But the first cut is always the deepest, and graded on a learning curve, Cornell is not that bad. At least they have good hospitality?
NEXT GAME: vs. Brown
Till next time…