Friday, October 5, 2012

Football: Ivy League Week 4 Preview

Dartmouth (2-1) at Yale (1-2)
The Big Green fell 28-21 to Penn last week.  Dartmouth probably deserved to lose the game, being modestly out-gained and out-first-downed.  Much of the difference was a result of Penn sacking Alex Park four times.  Park had an otherwise strong game, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns on 72% passing.  Dartmouth had a chance to get the ball back late, but the Quakers killed the final 3:33 (and three timeouts) by picking up a pair of rushing first downs.  Meanwhile, good old Eli  again had his defense torn to shreds, this time at the hands of Colgate.  Though terrible, Yale's defense was at least balanced, allowing 275 yards through the air and 267 more on the ground.  Raider QB Gavin McCarney threw for two touchdowns and rushed for four more.  Neither Dartmouth nor Yale could slow the run last week, and this game features two good backs in Dominick Pierre (350 yards on the season) and Tyler Varga (319).  Dartmouth's O-Line has allowed 11 sacks through three games; Yale's D has only recorded three.  Neither team is much better on the other side of the ball either.  This figures to come down to the fact that Yale can't stop the pass, and that Park (two INTs) takes better care of the ball than Yale freshman Eric Williams (eight).

Columbia (1-2) at Lehigh (5-0)
Lehigh comes in ranked 10th in the country.  A skeptic might point out that their last three wins have been by eight points combined.  Which, true, maybe Lehigh isn't the tenth-best outfit in the FCS.  But Columbia lost by 27 to Princeton last weekend.  This shouldn't be close.

Brown (2-1) at Rhode Island (0-4)
Rhody is terrible this year.  Their closest loss was a 31-10 filling-in at the hands of Villanova.  They've been out-gained by 300 yards per game.  At the risk of overusing italics, they've averaged 2.2 yards per carry.  They're awful.  Bruno is coming in off a 37-10 shellacking of Georgetown.  Patrick Donnelly (62% completions, 7 TD to 2 INTs) has been an efficient replacement for the graduated Kyle Newhall-Caballero, and Spiro Theodhosi is now up near 350 yards on the season.  Brown should win their third Governor's Cup in four years.

William & Mary (1-4) at Pennsylvania (1-2)
Penn's victory over Dartmouth was their first of the season.  The Quakers also recorded their first (four) sack(s) of the season.  Billy Ragone was his usual shifty self in the run game, and had his best day passing on the season (only 165 yards, but on just 18 attempts and with no interceptions).  Although they let Dartmouth back in the game (they held a 20-0 lead at one point), it was overall a solid road win.  W&M also got their season's first win last week by crushing Sun Belt Conference-bound Georgia State.  Three of their losses earlier this year were by three, three, and one (at Maryland, no less!) point.  Jerome Couplin and Brian Thompson give the Tribe a pair of extremely active safeties; I expect them to force an error or two on Ragone's part.

Princeton (1-2) at Lafayette (3-1)
The Tigers got in the win column last week, but it was against Columbia so I'm not sure it counts.  The Lions were held to 1.3 yards per carry.  The game could have been even more lopsided, as of Princeton's nine drives that got inside the Columbia 30, only three ended in touchdowns (four more ended in short field goals and two in turnovers).  Leaving that many potential points on the field probably won't work against a solid Lafayette team.  The Leopards lost for the first time last week, coming up three points short at Robert Morris.  Lafayette is not a particularly strong team offensively, but on defense they've already picked off 11 passes.  If Connor Michelsen, who has been generally a non-factor so far this year, can keep the ball out of Lafayette's secondary's hands, the Tigers have a shot.

Picks About Which I Am Extremely Confident
Dartmouth 31 - 20 Yale
Lehigh 34 - 10 Columbia
Brown 24 - 10 Rhode Island
William & Mary 23 - 17 Penn
Lafayette 24 - Princeton 20

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