League play for the Ancient Eight is in full swing, and some teams appear to be picking up steam. Is Penn destined to wear the Ivy League crown, or is some dissident team preparing to start a revolution? The Quakers remain the front-runners, but this gap is sure to close in the last remaining weeks. Parity has not been one of league’s strong qualities; Penn, Brown, and Harvard stand among the leaders after Yale’s loss this week. History has shown that winning the Ivy League title is almost impossible after two league losses (since 1982 to be exact). How teams deal with injuries and adjust during game situations will be pivotal. (Cue eerie music) And then there were four…
Penn (5-1, 3-0) – The Quakers extended their Ivy League unbeaten streak to 11 games and looked like their usual, dominant selves against Yale. Where is the Achilles’ heel? Penn gets stereotyped as defensive-oriented team, but readers may be quietly surprise to know that that scored on special teams, rushing, and passing. They are steamrolling like an 18-wheeler straight into the Bears next week, a pivotal game with high implications for the Ivy League race. The Quakers have yet to face a gunslinging team like the Bears, but I don’t think the Quakers know what fear is. The Penn Quakers have already been to Mars; that's why there are no signs of life there
NEXT GAME: vs. Brown
Brown (4-2, 3-0) – The Joe Springer era began this week, but not much else changed with the Bears. They still produced a strong passing game to complement a consistent running attack, and the defense was able to reject the hospitality and handed out punishment like pamphlets. As much as I am tempted to move Harvard above Brown, I’ll let Penn do the work for me next week in a matchup of the Ivy League unbeatens, a game between an offensive powerhouse and a defensive wall. Insinuation alert: defense wins championships, right? This is the de-facto championship for the Bears, as a win would surely result in a crowning ceremony.
NEXT GAME: vs. Penn
Harvard (4-2, 2-1) – Gino and company ran over New Jersey like nobody’s business, and you have to consider Gordon as a potential offensive Player of the Year for the Ivy League. What’s even better, Collier Winters made a surprise guest appearance and picked up right where he left off, throwing two TDs to Kyle Juszczyk. The Crimson produced a season high 583 yards of offense. Things are looking up, but it’s difficult to determine how much we can read from this game; the song “Eye of the Tiger” wasn’t exactly inspired by Princeton. However, Crimson fans can rejoice as the merry-go-round of QBs has finally (hopefully) stopped. This sets up the highly anticipated matchup with Penn, last year’s de facto championship, in the coming weeks.
NEXT GAME: vs. Dartmouth
Yale (4-2, 2-1) – Yale put up a surprisingly good fight against the defending Ivy League champions, and a late comeback bid fell just short a Rudy-like feel good story of the season. Patrick Witt was a monster early on, finishing the game with 331 yards of passing, but he also had some costly mistakes and turnovers that ended the upset bid. I guess being Handsome doesn’t really translate to good football skills. They should be able to pick up a win against Simba to set up a great matchup against the Bears.
NEXT GAME: vs. Columbia
Dartmouth (4-2, 1-2) – The sleeper of the year is finally shaking off the early season rust and beginning to establish its position in the Ivy League. QB Conner Kempe was the star of the Columbia game with a composed 14 play touchdown drive near the end of the game to pull out for the win against the perennially contending bulldogs. The best thing is that Kempe is only a junior and imagining how he will contribute to the team next year is a scary thought. But don’t hold your breath, as the Crimson come rumbling through on an offensive tear. The Big Green better be on its game or Hanover will be run over-d.
NEXT GAME: vs. Harvard
Columbia (3-3, 1-2) – Things have quickly turned sour at Pride Rock. Two Ivy League straight losses have put the Lions in a bad position to contend for the title. The game against the Big Green was a game that should have been won by 9 times out of 10, but the Columbia defense was porous and tired the entire 4th quarter. Even worse, they have to play Yale on the road, and games away from Pride Rock have been the opposite of paradise. Maybe they can turn it around with a statement game against the Bulldogs. Other playmakers, besides the do-it-all Sean Brackett, needs to stand out and contribute.
NEXT GAME: vs. Yale
Princeton (1-5, 0-3) – The Tigers played the Crimson admirably for much of the first half, notching the first points of the game. Like the Big Red, the Tigers are playing for pride at Jersey Shore. Perhaps I jumped the gun in the preseason about the potential of the Tigers, but I still think they are a good team. Maybe I am rationalizing my choice. The now-declared “The (Ugly) Situation” Bowl against Cornell should be a good indicator of my intuitions. Eye of the tiger baby. Eye of the tiger.
NEXT GAME: vs. Cornell
Cornell (1-5, 0-3) – Cornell, again, gets a thumbs up in my book for having the best hospitality in the Ivy League, but the team at this point is playing for next season. However, the pieces are in place for continued rebuilding with head coach Kent Austin and QB Jeff Matthews leading the way. The game against Princeton will be for pride more than anything but it would be interesting to see how Cornell stack up against the underrated Tigers offense. The Big Red has been the epitome of inconsistency: bright spots are quickly marred by “I-can’t-believe-(its butter)that-just-happened.”
NEXT GAME: vs. Princeton.
My Weekend "Pick 8"
Harvard 35 - Dartmouth 18
Brown 17 - Penn 14 (UPSET SPECIAL)
Cornell 21 - Princeton 7
Yale 21 - Columbia 14
Till next time…