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AROUND THE IVIES: Ancient Eight Gears Up for Final Week of Non-Conference Play

Hands in the Air
Sophomore tailback Aaron Shampklin stiff-arms a Cornell defender in Saturday's contest.
Last week, I promised that if my analysis of Harvard football’s resurgence was inaccurate, you wouldn’t find a single trace of that edition of this column. I need to maintain my sterling reputation after all.

Well, it turns out my editor isn’t a fan of “deleting articles” and “deceiving our readership.” As a result, my prediction that Harvard would trounce Cornell is preserved for generations of readers to scoff at. Embarrassing, to say the least.

While my co-beat writer takes a week off to cover the burgeoning professional track career of Harvard’s Gabby Thomas, I’m filling in to deliver the locks of the week in the Ivy League. Aside from my miss on last week’s Harvard–Cornell contest, I’m not sure what my record is in my first two attempts at prognosticating winners. But trust me,I know what I’m talking about.

Here we go on another trip Around the Ivies.

HOLY CROSS AT HARVARD

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Yet another Friday night game. Is it just me, or does it seem like the Ivy League (and all other football teams in the Northeast, for that matter) should do away with games under the lights?

I mean the league refuses to allow its teams to participate in postseason play out of respect for tradition, so why are games being played with the assistance of modern lighting technology? Helmets should be relegated to the FBS. We should reinstate the fullback and scrap the forward pass. Rip up the turf covering Harvard Stadium and lay down a mat of grass and mud. I’ll even do my part and write the next game story with pen and paper and record interviews in shorthand instead of using my computer.

All jokes aside, night games actually do seem to add some allure and intrigue to these games. If anything, the evening start times appear to dramatically increase first-half attendance among the portion of the student body that actually decides to show up.

The last time Harvard played Holy Cross was in a day game in week five of 2016. In that contest, the Crimson traveled to Worcester, Mass., and lost, 27-17. This year, however, the script should flip. Harvard has home-field advantage, and the Crusaders have been scuffling in the Patriot League, which is not super competitive.

Harvard by 3.5

CORNELL AT COLGATE

Turns out Colgate University is named for William Colgate, the founder of a soap company that is now one of the largest worldwide brands. I probably should’ve known that (or at least guessed it) since I’ve been writing these for three years now, but give me a break.

I personally prefer Crest myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m picking against Colgate this weekend. It currently sits first in the Patriot League, and it is far and away the best team in a conference in which the other six teams have a combined 6-27 overall record.

Colgate’s football team is nicknamed the Raiders, and as we all know, Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders are having a rough start to this season after trading away elite pass rusher Khalil Mack. However, this Raiders team is not having any issues on the defensive end. Colgate boasts a 5-0 record — including two shutouts — and has only given up 23(!) points all season, six in its last four contests.

This hardly sounds like a marquee matchup, but this game should actually be very entertaining. And Cornell is a team that can always pull off a surprise, as Harvard fans surely know by now. I’ll pick Colgate to wash away the Big Red in the end, though.

Colgate by 6.5

COLUMBIA AT PENN

The Philadelphia Flyers recently introduced a new mascot. Called “Gritty,” the orange monstrosity boasts an appearance eerily similar to that of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner.

It’s tough to draw parallels between centuries-old Ivy League academic institutions and the concept of grit, but each school’s football team would certainly like to dispel this notion. On that note, let’s power rank the grittiest Ivy League schools:

8. Princeton: Eating clubs and a fancy name disqualify the Tigers.

7. Harvard: Lost all its grit when the Chick-fil-A in the Science Center was replaced by Greenhouse Cafe, which in turn was replaced by yet another Clover.

6. Columbia: Its field is named after Robert Kraft. I’m a Patriots fan, but not the epitome of grit.

5. Dartmouth: Bridges the gap between gritty, woodsy New Hampshire and hipster New Hampshire, so it feels appropriate that Dartmouth lands pretty much in the middle.

4. Penn: Its press box consists of two rows of bleachers roped off by yellow caution tape. Now that’s grit.

3. Brown: Hard work does not go unnoticed; Brown has had to work the hardest to be taken seriously. Also, the Bears have easily the most minimalist football stadium.

2. Cornell: Closest to the blue-collar city of Buffalo.

1. Yale: This might be a surprising pick at the one spot, but we’re talking about New Haven here. Nothing further.

In terms of this list, Penn edges Columbia, so I’ll pick the Quakers in this weekend’s contest.

Penn by 1

BROWN AT PRINCETON

Well, I guess I learned my lesson.

I staked my reputation to the Bears last week, and how did they repay me? With a 48-0 loss to Rhode Island, of course.

Really, it’s on me —I should’ve seen it coming. I mean the Rams are a ranked team, and Brown is...not. I’ll do better next time (I think).

This week, the Bears match up against an opponent that is a few spots down from URI in the FCS rankings, but this team might just be better. No. 21 Princeton is now tuning up its collective opponents to an average final score of 53.0 to 8.3. Yep, you read that right.

However, if Brown pulls off this upset a week after failing to live up to my prediction, you have my word that I will immediately retire from the football beat and The Crimson as a whole.

Princeton by 60 (seriously)

YALE AT MERCER

The Mercer Bears are like the Brown Bears. Both schools’ athletic teams are called the Bears. And that’s about it actually. Mercer’s football program beats out Brown’s by a wide margin, but I’ll concede color scheme to the Providence, R.I., school. Mercer’s gray and orange mix does not really evoke “Bear” quite like Brown’s emphasis on...brown.

Mercer sits at 3-3 and has won three of its last four contests. Though Yale also sits at .500, it has scuffled out of the gate compared to its bullish preseason projections following an Ivy League title win last season.

Mercer is making a long journey up from Macon, Ga., to New Haven, Conn. I fear that the Bears do not know exactly what they’re dealing with, so I’ll tab the Bulldogs to take this one.

Yale by 3

SACRED HEART AT DARTMOUTH

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, otherwise known as Sacré-Cœur, sits perched atop the Butte Montmarte in France’s capital city. Sacré-Cœur seems to tower over the city, as its Byzantine architecture can be seen from all around. The view from the hilltop is equally striking: in “Monument and Myth,” David Harvey claims that in 1872, the Archbishop of Paris exclaimed, “It is here, it is here where the martyrs are, it is here that the Sacred Heart must reign so that it can beckon all to it!”

This Saturday, Sacred Heart will not reign. Dartmouth football is just too good.

The Pioneers have lost to Ivy League opponents in back-to-back weeks, dropping a 43-24 decision at Cornell before hosting Penn and suffering a 31-27 defeat. This week, Sacred Heart returns to the road to face off against a consensus top-two Ancient Eight squad.

The Big Green fell just short of a conference championship last season, and it responded by steamrolling last year’s champion Yale Bulldogs, 41-18, at the Yale Bowl last week. Once this Saturday has passed, Dartmouth may have to repent for its treatment of the Sacred Heart team.

Dartmouth by 21

— Staff writer Jack Stockless can be reached at jack.stockless@thecrimson.com.

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