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AROUND THE IVY LEAGUE: League Contests Loom

By Michael R. James, Crimson Staff Writer

You’ve seen the t-shirt.

You know, the one where the portly Bulldog has its back facing you, the viewer, while presumably performing some sort of oral favors for the cowboy-looking pilgrim.

That Cantabrigian might as well have donned a San Diego Toreros jersey, because that’s the metaphorical representation of what happened in Yale’s 17-14 loss to the I-AA mid-major Toreros.

It was the only blemish on a perfect opening weekend for Ivy football that saw seven of the eight league squads post victories, including six wins over Patriot League schools.

This weekend marks the start of the 2005 Ivy season, but it also provides the best opportunity for some league schools—Dartmouth and Penn—to make a huge splash on a national stage.

With that, let’s get to the slate of games for this Saturday.

GAME OF THE WEEK: VILLANOVA (1-1) AT PENN (1-0)

Quakers coach Al Bagnoli has always been and likely will always remain an outspoken proponent of I-AA playoffs.

And that’s good news, because round one begins Saturday.

Penn once again welcomes Villanova to Franklin Field, needing a win under the lights to have a shot at cracking the top 25 for the first time since the final week of the 2004 season.

In the nine meetings between the Quakers and Wildcats, Penn has claimed five, with its last victory coming during the Taft administration. In fact, the Quakers lost its best opportunity to beat Villanova by swapping the Wildcats for Lehigh during its perfect 2003 season.

With a staunch defense and an offense that is much improved over the one which Villanova shut down for over three quarters last year, Penn will put up a very tough fight. The kicking game will be the difference, and Quakers kicker Derek Zoch had an outstanding opening weekend.

Penn ends the four-game, 94-year losing streak with a six-point win.

DARTMOUTH (1-0) AT NO. 2 NEW HAMPSHIRE (2-0)

The Big Green forced tons of Colgate mistakes and overcame a meager offensive performance to pull off a 26-21 upset. Welcome to your rude awakening, Dartmouth.

The Big Green hasn’t won a Granite Bowl over New Hampshire since 1976, and Dartmouth has had some really good teams during that span. This year isn’t one of them, and the Wildcats might be as strong as they’ve ever been.

New Hampshire has cracked the 40-point mark in this contest for the past two seasons. The Wildcats might hit 50 or 60 this year, as they roll to a four-touchdown victory.

CORNELL (1-0) AT YALE (0-1)

Maybe the Bulldogs will be fired up after getting embarrassed at San Diego. Maybe coach Jack Siedlecki will feel a sense of urgency ito keep his job. Maybe Yale will turn its season around. Probably none of that will happen.

Yale’s offense never got started, and its defense is questionable at best. Cornell’s air-tight defense should provide a much tougher test than that of San Diego, and its veteran offense will put enough points up to win. Cornell picks up an Ivy road win by a touchdown.

COLUMBIA (1-0) AT DUQUESNE (2-1)

The good news for the Lions is they’re 1-0 with a win over Fordham. The bad news is the Dukes are 2-1 with a more impressive victory over the Rams.

Duquesne sputtered at Penn last weekend on its first road trip of the season, and more of the same can be expected this Saturday at Wien Stadium.

For the first and last time in my collegiate career, I can finally say it: Columbia is going to win this game, and the world will end. Probably in that order.

SAN DIEGO (3-0) AT PRINCETON (1-0)

After three straight home games to start the season, the Toreros finally hit the road for their most difficult game of the season at Princeton. San Diego could be well on its way to taking home the I-AA mid-major crown, but it doesn’t have the talent to keep up with the Tigers. Whereas Yale was likely blinded by the shining sun of Southern California, Princeton will be able focus on the task at hand and pull away for a double-digit win over the Toreros.

—Staff writer Michael R. James can be reached at mrjames@fas.harvard.edu.

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