AROUND THE IVIES: PA Key to Bears, Obama Victories

Who would have known that Barack Obama followed Ivy League football so closely?

While many would claim that the president-elect’s crack team of advisors and strategists convinced him long ago that winning in Pennsylvania would be the key to taking it all, a more likely scenario plays out like this:

An avid sports fan, Obama sat in the back of his campaign bus last Saturday relaxing on a Lazy Boy and watching some ESPN News. As the ticker on the bottom of the television screen rolled through college football scores from across the nation, it finally came across the Ivy League.

Having graduated from both Columbia and Harvard Law School, Obama sat up in his chair and leaned forward, his interest piqued, when suddenly a revelation flashed across the scene: Brown 34, Penn 27.

Recognizing that Bears were now the only undefeated team in Ivy League play left and had completed the hardest part of their schedule, Obama knew that, by winning in Pennsylvania, Brown had put itself in prime position to win the big prize.

Of course, the race for the Ivy League championship is not over yet. Harvard is riding a five-game winning streak and doesn’t look like it’s ready to lose anytime soon. But at 3-1 in conference play, the Crimson does not control its own destiny.

For Harvard to gain at least a piece of the Ivy title, it will have to win its last three games while Brown loses one. To put this in perspective and stick with the election analogy, Brown’s final slate of Yale, Dartmouth, and Columbia is like if the presidency had come down to Ohio, Massachusetts, and New York for Obama.

The Bears will probably sweep, and there’s no way in hell they’re losing two. A shared title is the Crimson’s best hope, and it’s a distant hope at that.

HARVARD (6-1, 3-1 Ivy) VS. COLUMBIA (1-6, 1-3 Ivy)

To paraphrase Obama’s victory speech, Harvard will win tomorrow because the true strength of the Crimson comes not from the might of Chris Pizzotti’s arm or the scale of its defensive line, but from the enduring power of head coach Tim Murphy’s ideals: resilience, teamwork, dedication, and unyielding two-a-days.

Also, Columbia’s just not that good.

It’s amazing how far Harvard will go on Freshmen Parents’ Weekend to give the poor froshies’ families the impression that this place is way better than it really is: great food in Annenberg, captivating panel discussions, and the Lions.

Just wait until these clueless parents go home and brag to all their friends about what a great school their kids go to and how dominant its athletic program is.

Prediction: Harvard 28, Columbia 14

YALE (4-3, 2-2 Ivy) AT BROWN (5-2, 4-0 Ivy)

You know as a Harvard student that you have sunk to a new low when you openly root for Yale to win a game. Also, I guess as a journalist I’ve sunk to a new low by openly rooting for anyone, but that’s another story.

The Bulldogs are really the Crimson’s last chance at a piece of the Ivy League championship, but the outlook is not good.

Brown sports an obscene passing game featuring two wideouts with over 600 receiving yards and will win despite its apparent disregard for defense.

I’m tempted to say that a very solid Yale defensive unit matches up well against the Bears, but Brown dropped 34 points on Penn–the Ivy’s top D–last week.

Prediction: Brown 31, Yale 27

PENN (4-3, 3-1 Ivy) AT PRINCETON (3-4, 2-2 Ivy)

Sure, Penn is 3-1 in the Ancient Eight just like Harvard and statistically has just as good of a chance of winning the Ivy title as the Crimson does. But the Quakers are nowhere near Harvard’s level and I don’t even think they’ll make it to next week still in contention.

While I mentioned that Penn’s defense is ranked first in the Ivy League, the Quakers have made their defensive bones against the passing game. Penn is only fourth in the conference defending the run.

Why is this important? Two words: Jordan Culbreath. Princeton’s junior running back averages 5.6 yards per carry, better than Yale’s Mike McLeod even before he was average and better than Clifton Dawson ’07’s best season.

I think Culbreath will run the Quakers out of Jersey the way the Puritans ran them out of Massachusetts, except without the corporal punishment and book burning. Gotta love our roots, eh Harvard?

DARTMOUTH (0-7, 0-4 Ivy) AT CORNELL (3-4, 1-3 Ivy)

Does this game even need to be played? Has my campaign to revoke Dartmouth’s status as a legitimate football team been paid any attention?

Couldn’t the Big Green just send one of Dartmouth’s innumerable frats to play instead? Wouldn’t the result be exactly the same and much more entertaining all at once?

Imagine Cornell quarterback Nathan Ford throwing touchdown bombs all day while the Big Green bros do Jaeger Bombs on the sideline. Would it even make a difference?

Prediction: Cornell 35, Dartmouth 14

Last Week’s Record: 2-2

Record to Date: 23-9

—Staff writer Loren Amor can be reached at lamor@fas.harvard.edu.

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