Around the Ivies
Four receptions for 50 yards.
Last season, that line would sum up a pretty average half for Matt Luft. After the senior wideout served as a talented understudy for star Harvard receiver and fellow Thousand Oaks High School grad Corey Mazza ’07-’08 for two years, Luft broke out on his own last season with a stellar junior campaign.
People at this school like to talk about the Harvard bubble. We live with a perpetual haze shrouding our eyes from reality, allowing us only to see a distorted conception of it, one in which every midterm means life or death and thesis deadlines mark the coming of Armageddon.
The illusion permeates every aspect of our lives. Candidates in student elections campaign with an urgency and self-importance befitting a presidential contender. Advocacy groups push for their righteous causes with such vigor and conviction that they might as well be lobbying for legislation in front of Congress.
First losses plague the Ancient Eight’s elite,
Foreseen victors not keen to fall again.
Redeem the polls by rising to thy feet.
What says Harvard, what says Brown, what says Penn?
A dark horse lurks somewhere among the pack,
Ready to pounce should others start to fail.
Which New York Ivy eyes the title track?
Or shall the big surprise arise from Yale?
Alas, there’s one more question left to touch:
Not if Dartmouth will lose, but by how much?
My apologies to Bill Shakespeare, who just found out that turning over in one’s grave is more uncomfortable than you’d think. Let’s make some football picks for Week 2.
CORNELL (1-0) AT YALE (1-0)
The Bulldogs and the Big Red will take the field at the Yale Bowl tomorrow fresh off of trouncing Patriot League foes Georgetown and Bucknell, respectively. While neither team is seen as a frontrunner for an Ivy title, one will walk away from this game with both momentum and a head start in the Ancient Eight race.
Yale’s new quarterback Patrick Witt—brother of former Harvard signal caller Jeff—was a model of efficiency in Week 1, going 22-for-27 with 216 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’ll have to sort some things out with his linemen, though, after getting sacked six times.
As for Cornell, I might owe the Big Red an apology. In last week’s column, I mocked the team for playing the guy who “might be [its] best quarterback,” Stephen Liuzza, at wide receiver while the untested Ben Ganter lined up behind center. Well, Ganter managed Cornell’s offense adequately against Bucknell while Liuzza showed why it’s not smart to pigeon-hole him into one position—he rushed five times for 71 yards and a touchdown, caught two passes for 11 yards, and even threw a nine-yard completion.
Prediction: Yale 24, Cornell 17
DARTMOUTH (0-1) AT NO. 7 NEW HAMPSHIRE (2-0)
It’s no secret to the four of you who regularly read this column that I derive a certain degree of sadistic pleasure from making fun of Dartmouth football.
But when I see injustice in the world, I feel compelled to stand up and say something.
To whoever scheduled the Big Green to play against the seventh-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS, formerly Division 1-AA), does your cruelty know no bounds? I refuse to believe that Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens was behind this because he seems like a really nice guy. But somewhere out there, someone pitched the idea of making this game happen, whispering sweet nothings about intrastate rivalries and it being “good for the fans.”
In addressing this person, I cite yet another Bard—Sir William Ferrell from his seminal work, “Good Cop, Baby Cop”: “I don’t know who blackened your soul a long time ago, but may God have mercy on it.”
Prediction: New Hampshire 48, Dartmouth 7
COLUMBIA (1-0) VS. CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE (1-1)
Last season, the book on Columbia was “Great Defense, Non-Existent Offense.” The team only won one game (guess who they beat), but the groundwork for a successful program was ther
Harvard football fans are a spoiled bunch these days.
In the Crimson’s two-year run as Ivy League champion, the Harvard faithful could trek across the river five weekends a year and pretty much know what to expect: an athletic, aggressive, veteran defense; a well-rounded offense bolstered by a stalwart line, dependable backs, and gifted wideouts; and, of course, Chris Pizzotti ’08-’09.
After cementing himself as the Crimson’s starting quarterback in 2008, Pizzotti returned for a fifth year last season and torched the opposition, throwing for 2,490 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to winning the Ivy League Player of the Year Award.
But just because it felt like Pizzotti was around forever doesn’t mean that he was, or that he was going to be. He’s gone now, and in his wake is a gaping hole under center that Harvard will try to fill with a variety of intriguing, if unknown, commodities, from junior Collier Winters down the depth chart to freshman Colton Chapple.
If there’s any silver lining in this less than ideal predicament, it’s that the rest of the Ivy League is going through exactly the same thing. In the Ancient Eight, only Yale, Columbia and Dartmouth field quarterbacks who threw over 100 passes last season, and there’s not one signal caller in the league whom you could call a legitimate star.
That’s not to say one won’t emerge, and as we run through the weekend slate in this first edition of Around the Ivies, we’ll take a close look at which QB’s could become true field generals, and which should go back to cleaning latrines, or at least holding a clipboard on the sidelines.
CORNELL VS. BUCKNELL
I’m going to miss Nathan Ford. One of my favorite athletes in the Ivy League—not only was Ford an exciting quarterback for the Big Red who would routinely throw up 60 or so passes in a game, he was also a devastating slugger on Cornell’s baseball team. Not to mention that Dwight name-dropped him on “The Office.”
Now that Ford’s graduated, former JV starter turned varsity benchwarmer Ben Ganter will take the snaps for Cornell while the guy who might be the team’s best quarterback, Stephen Liuzza, is playing wide receiver. Go figure.
Prediction: Bucknell 21, Cornell 17.
DARTMOUTH VS. COLGATE
Even as far as losers go, Dartmouth is a hard team to love. But in keeping in line with the theme of this column, I will say this: the Big Green is pretty stable at quarterback. Alex Jenny showed a modest degree of talent last season, and that’s enough to get him the starting job this year. Good for him.
Unfortunately, while the defense is on the field Jenny will be stuck watching Colgate’s Greg Sullivan, a versatile QB with a rocket for an arm and jets on his legs. Bold prediction: Sullivan gains more yards rushing than Jenny does throwing.
Not So Bold Prediction: Colgate 34, Dartmouth 10.
YALE AT GEORGETOWN
As difficult as it is to lavish a Yalie with platitudes, I have to say I like new Bulldogs coach Tom Williams. The former Jacksonville Jaguars assistant took over the team from Jack Siedlecki and immediately put a fire in his players by declaring every roster spot open to competition, including quarterback.
So while Brook Hart played well in a platoon with the graduated Ryan Fodor last year, he’ll have to withstand a challenge from sophomore transfer Patrick Witt—brother of former Harvard quarterback Jeff Witt—if he wants the starting job all to himself.
Prediction: Yale 28, Georgetown 14.
PRINCETON VS. THE CITADEL
Some guy named Tommy Wornham will get the starting nod behind center for the Tigers, but it really doesn’t matter. Princeton running back Jordan Culbreath was the best player in the Ancient Eight not named Pizzotti last season, rushing for 1244 yards and 10 touchdowns, and he’s as good a pick as any for Ivy League Player of the Year this time around.
Prediction: Princeton 31, Citadel 27.
BROWN AT STONY BROOK
Like Harvard, Brown lost its star quarterbac