Parity is the name of the game in Ivy League football these days.
Since this year’s seniors were freshmen back in the 2006 season, four different teams have won at least a share of the Ancient Eight title—Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Princeton—while Penn and Cornell have at least remained competitive throughout that time.
This year, the Ivy crown is as up for grabs as ever. Harvard’s on top with its 2-0 record in conference play, but the winner of tomorrow’s Columbia-Penn game will soon join the Crimson. The Lions in particular have been exciting to watch, shaking off their long-time role as the Ivy League’s punching bag under the leadership of head coach Norries Wilson.
Yale and Cornell form the middle of the pack at 1-1. The Big Red is unlikely to threaten anyone this year, but the Bulldogs—while removed from their customary spot on the short list of top Ivy title challengers—should at least keep opponents on their toes and end the season with a respectable record.
Of the three teams yet to add a league victory to their names—Brown, Princeton, and Dartmouth—it’d be nearly impossible to throw either of the latter two squads into a discussion of contenders with a straight face. But Brown’s Ivy loss came to Harvard in a close game, and the Bears defiantly discouraged their detractors from dismissing them last week by upsetting then-No. 20 Holy Cross.
I picked the Crimson to win the Ivies before the season, and I stand by that prediction, not because I’m a shameless homer (which wouldn’t be an entirely ridiculous accusation), but because I truly believe that Harvard is the team to beat. But while I expect the Crimson to take the Ancient Eight title, it certainly wouldn’t shock me if it didn’t.
The Ivy League football season reaches its halfway point tomorrow, and there are a good number of teams in the league who aren’t half bad, and possibly even better than that.
PRINCETON (1-3, 0-1 IVY) AT BROWN (2-2, 0-1 IVY)
Last week, Brown’s Kyle Newhall-Caballero found himself in a place no Ivy League quarterback wants to be: in a shootout with Holy Cross’s juggernaut of a quarterback, Dominic Randolph.
Randolph, the two-time defending Patriot League player of the year, has devoured defenses from his sister conference, and this time was no different. The future NFL draft pick went 38-for-53 against the Bears for 411 yards and four touchdowns.
But “El Caballero” was better, at least when it counted. The first-year starter completed 46 of 61 passes for 431 yards and two scores to lead Brown to a 34-31 victory.
After taking on Randolph, somehow I don’t think Newhall will be too concerned when he faces off against Princeton’s Tommy Wornham tomorrow.
Prediction: Brown 30, Princeton 21
FORDHAM (2-3) AT CORNELL (2-2, 1-1 IVY)
The matchup to watch here is between Fordham quarterback John Skelton and the Cornell secondary.