Gridiron Ivy Play Begins At Last
All right, Ivy League football fans—it’s time to get serious. At this point, I know everyone is sick and tired of non-conference play.
After all, what do we have to show from the past five weeks besides a handful of wins against Patriot League foes, some devastating injuries, and a couple embarrassing losses (cough, Cornell, cough)?
Anyways, it’s time for the Ancient Eight to do what it does best: be exclusive.
From here on in, no outsiders are welcome. Matchups within the Ivy League are all that are left on the docket for the 2010 season.
Besides the fact that this means I only have to make four predictions this week—and hence can return to playing NBA 2K11 sooner—the end of nonconference play has other important implications.
After this week, we should have an even better sense of which team is the clear frontrunner for the league championship.
Two opponents with undefeated conference records—Penn and Yale—square off against each other, while other contenders—Harvard and Columbia—hope to avoid picking up their second losses and falling out of the race.
No. 23 PENN (4-1, 2-0 Ivy) at YALE (4-1, 2-0 Ivy)
When the Ivy League’s top offense is pitted against the league’s top defense, something’s gotta give. While Yale’s high-powered attack has been on a tear this season—averaging 410 yards of offense per game—it will be put to the test against the Quakers, which are surrendering just 69.2 rushing yards per game.
The Penn defense also has history on its side, having not surrendered a point to the Bulldogs since 2008. If the Quakers hope to keep that streak alive, they will have to slow Yale quarterback Patrick Witt, who returns to the field this week after missing his team’s matchup with Fordham last weekend while serving a one-week suspension.
In four games of action Witt has averaged 277 yards per contest and tossed six touchdown passes. Penn will also have its hands full dealing with running back Alex Thomas, who has found the end zone four times this season. Luckily for the Quakers, half of Yale’s dynamic rushing duo will be missing this Saturday, as sophomore runner Mordecai Cargill underwent surgery Wednesday morning. With Cargill’s absence in mind, expect good defense to prevail over good offense.
Prediction: Penn 21, Yale 10.
CORNELL (1-4, 0-2 Ivy) at BROWN (3-2, 2-0 Ivy)
Last weekend wasn’t very pretty for fans of Cornell football. Hosting Colgate, the Big Red suffered the most lopsided loss of any Ivy League team this season, falling 44-3. Cornell hopes it can turn things around this weekend by snapping its eight-game Ivy losing streak against Brown. But that seems unlikely.
Even without first team All-Ivy quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero—who suffered a season-ending injury in the Bears’ third contest against Rhode Island—Brown should be able to get past Cornell fairly easily behind its above-average defense and strong air attack.