Al Gore ’69 was here Wednesday, presumably to speak about saving the environment or, as South Park fans would claim, to warn Harvard students about the ever-growing threat of the vicious ManBearPig.
Unfortunately I missed the speech in the Yard, having slept through it after dozing off while reading “On the Road” for a seminar (this is more of a testament to sleep deprivation than an indictment of Jack Kerouac).
But had I been there, I would have asked the former Vice President to offer a solution to another pressing issue: the woeful state of the current Ivy League football standings. After all, Gore was roommates with Tommy Lee Jones ’69 at Harvard, and Jones was an All-Ivy offensive tackle for the Crimson’s 1968 undefeated team that “beat” Yale, 29-29.
If you don’t follow my reasoning, you’re probably sane, so let’s move on and talk about some football.
Take a cursory look below at the records of the Ivy League teams, while remembering that non-conference games don’t count for anything and there is no playoff system in the Ancient Eight.
You’ll notice that the only consistent teams in the Ivies right now are Dartmouth and Columbia, and that’s only because they are equally terrible, although—SPOILER ALERT—if you read my picks you’ll realize that they’re really not.
As for the rest of the conference, its best team (Harvard) gets equal billing with one of its worst (Princeton). Yale, which has had some odd losses but is still probably a top-three program, is on par with Cornell, which has showed its true colors of late with a pair of consecutive blowout losses after starting 3-0. Finally, and worst of all, first place is shared by a Brown team—that was pounded, 37-13, by a currently 2-6 Rhode Island team a few weeks ago—and a Penn squad that barely squeaked by the aforementioned and much maligned Columbia at home last week.
It may seem premature to ring the alarum just five weeks into the season, but remember that there are also just five weeks left. It’s quite possible that the state of the Ivies will remain the same until the 2008 campaign is played out and an undeserving champion or two will be crowned.
Forget Al Gore, the answer is easy. Establish an Ivy League Championship game, send the winner to the Division 1-AA playoffs, and reduce carbon emissions.
HARVARD (4-1, 1-1 Ivy) AT PRINCETON (2-3, 1-1 Ivy)
Harvard’s toughest competition so far has come from its three non-conference foes, and the team executed an impressive sweep of Holy Cross, Lafayette, and Lehigh. The bizarre 24-22 loss at Brown in which it took a combination of torrential downpours, a plethora of fumbles, and a missed extra point to get the Bears past Harvard may hurt the Crimson in its quest for a second straight Ivy League title, but there is little doubt that Harvard is in championship form right now.
Prediction: Harvard 24, Princeton 14
PENN (3-2, 2-0 Ivy) AT YALE (3-2, 1-1 IVY)
If you’re wondering why Yale has been so mediocre this season, you need not look further than running back Mike McLeod. Last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry. Whether the blame lies with him, his offensive line, or his coaches is irrelevant—if McLeod’s not on his game neither are the Bulldogs.
Still, I’m not convinced that Penn is a real contender—not when the Quakers offense was shut down by Columbia for the entire second half in last week’s 15-10 Penn win.
Prediction: Yale 21, Penn 17
CORNELL (3-2, 1-1 Ivy) AT BROWN (3-2, 2-0 Ivy)
Brown quarterback Michael Dougherty and his Killer B’s, receivers Bobby Sewall and Buddy Farnham, make a dangerous combination. Bobby and Buddy have a combined 37 receptions and each has three touchdowns. You won’t find too many Ivy League teams with a deep enough secondary to cover both effectively.
Cornell has been a major disappointment, allowing 76 points in its last two games, but the Big Red’s early winning streak had fluke written all over it–Cornell outscored its first three opponents by just five total points.
Prediction: Brown 21, Cornell 13
DARTMOUTH (0-5, 0-2 Ivy) AT COLUMBIA (0-5, 0-2 Ivy)
If I may quote something I wrote in this space two weeks ago, and I may, “If you’re putting money down on a Columbia win…save it. But if you really must, Week 6 against Dartmouth looks promising.”
I stand by that statement wholeheartedly. While Columbia has fought hard all season to at least look respectable in losing efforts, Dartmouth has apparently been replacing its unofficial mascot, Keggy the Keg, on the sideline with the real deal. The Big Green has to be playing drunk, right? A team can’t be this bad, can it?
While I’m in a self-indulgent mood, let me bring up another quote of mine, this one from Week 2. Only this time, I wish to rescind it (for now at least): “Columbia sucks.”
Prediction: Columbia 31, Dartmouth 16
Last Week’s Record: 4-2
Record to Date: 18-6
—Staff writer Loren Amor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.