As the calendar flips to October in Boston, thankfully we still have some of the vestiges of summer—the leaves have not begun to fall, the sun continues to shine, and temperatures still allow for t-shirts and shorts.
Though the climate is relatively similar across the New England and Mid-Atlantic region, I will likely pack my winter coat as I depart for Ithaca, N.Y., this weekend to cover the Harvard-Cornell game. The barren land around the Finger Lakes just screams “frozen tundra,” even well before the onset of winter. But more on Cornell later.
We’re heading into Week 4 of the 2017 football season, and there is just about no separation between any of the Ivy League contenders. Perennial favorites like Harvard, Penn, and Princeton have all suffered losses, while upstarts Yale, Dartmouth, and Columbia show no signs of slowing down. Folks, I haven’t seen this much parity since I watched Blazing Saddles.
One inevitable consequence of the quality football being played by so many Ivy League programs is that my expert opinions could backfire on me at any moment. After many hours of studying and deliberation to avoid ruining my reputation, here are my picks for this week.
BROWN AT STETSON
Brown is playing Stetson University. Stetson University is in DeLand, Fla. DeLand sounds similar to the land. “The Land” is one of Cleveland’s nicknames. The Cleveland Browns play in The Land.
If you’re wondering where I’m going with this, basically Brown is the Ivy equivalent of the Cleveland Browns. Get it? Because of the name. But also because of their records. All these similarities are making my job here pretty easy.
While non-conference games are always hard to project, Stetson is not looking so hot to begin 2017. The Hatters have a sterling 0-5 record, and for some Ancient Eight perspective, they lost to Dartmouth, 38-7. Brown’s defense has been its issue so far, but Stetson does not have a formidable offense, scoring a paltry 12 points per game.
When two struggling teams collide, at least one has to earn a win somehow. The Browns are currently 0-4, but Brown University will look to break away from its Cleveland counterpart this weekend.
Pick: Brown 24, Stetson 17
YALE AT DARTMOUTH
In The Doors’ song “Peace Frog,” Jim Morrison sings of “blood in the streets in the town of New Haven.” Luckily for Yale, this portentous lyric holds no weight this week, as the Bulldogs are on the road in Hanover, N.H.
Yale has apparently decided to become the Wilt Chamberlain of Ivy League football, thus far posting nearly 50 points per contest. Will it go for 100 in a game this season? Only time will tell.
The Bulldogs’ Chamberlain-esque offense is powered by an explosive running game anchored by a senior-freshman duo. Deshawn Salter and Zane Dudek have combined for 663 yards in just three games, each averaging over 100 per game.
Following a dead-last finish in the Ivy League last year, Dartmouth has rebounded early on in 2017. The potent Big Green defense halted 2016 co-champion Penn at just 13 points last week. More notably, Dartmouth has limited its opponents to under 100 rushing yards per game—unstoppable forces Salter and Dudek, meet your immovable object.
AROUND THE IVIES: Football Aiming For HistoryThe truth is, though, Harvard football is on the verge of something special. Maybe not documentary-level special, but impressive indeed.
AROUND THE IVIES: Football Will Now Actually Take Princeton Seriously
AROUND THE IVIES: Another Week of Mildly Good Football in the Ivy League
AROUND THE IVIES: A Potentially Interesting Weekend in Ivy Football
Football Prepares to Face Georgetown on the RoadI used to be an idealistic young man. I used to think that Harvard students would come to football games if you made them more fun. That deep within every student was the same innate desire to see players batter each other for glory. That getting A’s in college was easy. That Santa Claus was real. That Yale was a good school.