Around the Ivies: Football season comes down to wire
Entering the final week of Ivy League play, one team has already clinched the conference title, but two others have a chance to share it. What’s at stake in the final games? We break it down for you here:
1. Penn (5-4 overall, 5-1 Ivy League) Penn has outscored its Ivy League opponents by a total of 16 points this season — less than a field goal per game. Yet after their 30-21 victory over Harvard last weekend, the Quakers have clinched at least a share of the Ivy League championship, and they can secure the title outright with a win against Cornell on Saturday. But they’ll have to do so without starting quarterback Billy Ragone, who suffered a gruesome ankle injury against the Crimson.
2. Harvard (7-2, 4-2) In contrast to the Quakers, Harvard has dominated its Ancient Eight opponents on aggregate, outscoring them by a total of 118 points. But the Crimson lost close games at Princeton and Penn, leaving its Ivy League title hopes out of its hands. Harvard should have no trouble taking care of its own business this weekend, as it should boost that scoring margin even more when it hosts injury-ravaged Yale in one of the most lopsided incarnations of "The Game" on paper.
2. Princeton (5-4, 4-2) With one game remaining, the Tigers — picked to finish last in the preseason polls — still have a chance to share the Ivy League title. Princeton needs to beat Dartmouth at home and hope the Quakers lose to Cornell; if both of those happen, the Tigers will have a lot more to celebrate at Saturday night’s bonfire.
4. Brown (6-3, 3-3) The Bears need to win their final game to secure their sixth straight Ivy League winning season; they have a favorable setup to do so, facing Columbia at home. Brown has been outscored this year, but it gained some late-season momentum with November wins against Yale and Dartmouth. Only Harvard has allowed fewer points per game than the Bears, who have held opponents to an average of 17.8 points.
4. Dartmouth (5-4, 3-3) Once the Ivy League’s traditional power, Dartmouth is searching for its second straight 4-3 finish in Ivy League play, a welcome improvement after seven straight years below .500. The Big Green will play its traditional grind-and-run game, having allowed the second-fewest yards in the conference and with Dominick Pierre in contention to become Dartmouth’s third straight Ivy League rushing leader.
6. Cornell (4-5, 2-4) It has been a disappointing season for Cornell, which received two first-place votes in the preseason media poll but will finish closer to the bottom of the conference than the top. The Big Red can still affect the Ivy League title race, however; a home victory over Penn this weekend would give Harvard and Princeton a shot at sharing the championship. Quarterback Jeff Mathews ranks third in the nation with 344 passing yards per game.
6. Columbia (3-6, 2-4) Just seven days after being handed a 69-0 drubbing by Harvard, the Lions shocked Cornell with a 34-17 victory in their home opener. Five of Columbia’s nine games this season have been decided by a touchdown or less; the Lions came within three yards of beating current league leader Penn last month after losing a fourth-quarter lead.
8. Yale (2-7, 1-5) How strange is this Ivy League season? The only team to beat league champion Penn so far is Yale — which is 0-5 against the rest of the conference. It’s hard to see that changing this weekend, when the Bulldogs visit an imposing Harvard team in their season finale. Injuries have certainly played a factor, as Yale was down to its fifth-string quarterback against Princeton last week.