Saturday, November 06, 2004

WEEK 8 PREVIEW

With Harvard and Penn all but guaranteeing that next week's match-up at Franklin Field will be for the Ivy Title, the other 6 schools have little more than pride on the line this weekend. But nowhere is there more potential for spoilers than in the Ancient Eight, where rivalries are strong and passions run high. Here's a look at what is in store this Saturday:

In one of the most bitter rivalries in the country, albeit fueled more by both schools' recent successes on the basketball court than on the gridiron, Penn, ranked #20 nationally in the latest Sports Nation poll, brings their unblemished League record to Princeton Stadium to take on the surprising Tigers, who are undoubtedly looking to make up for a disappointing loss at Cornell last weekend. Picked by many to finish at or near the Ivy basement this season, the boys from Old Nassau have compiled a respectable 4-3 overall record and sit in a 3-way tie for second place in the League. However, just as Penn and Princeton have been head-and-shoulders over their Ivy compatriots on the basketball court, so Penn and Harvard have clearly become the elite on the football field. Princeton will compete early, but won't be able to keep up beyond halftime.
Pick: PENN 27, Princeton 14

After a surprisingly close contest at the always-intimidating Yale Bowl last weekend, Columbia looks to play spoiler to Harvard's title hopes in a visit to Cambridge this week. Once again, the Lions have been saddled with the curse of losing close games, and have not been able to close out many contests in which they had a legitimate shot of winning. While Harvard showed some serious vulnerabilities in a one-point win over Dartmouth last week, look for the Crimson to re-focus on the title picture when they return to their home field, setting up a meeting of the unbeatens in Philadelphia next weekend.
Pick: Harvard 31, Columbia 17

In a match-up which many at the beginning of the season understandably thought would have title implications, the underachieving Yale Bulldogs travel to Providence to meet the equally disappointing but always tough Brown Bears. Yale made up for a tough loss to Penn by beating up on Columbia, but Brown's high-powered offense and home-field advantage may be too much for the Elis. Both teams are dangerous, and playing for pride. Look for a tight back-and-forth contest, with Walter Payton Award candidate QB Alvin Cowan ultimately leading his team to victory.
Pick: Yale 21, Brown 20

And finally, in the "Who gives a shit, it's FREEZING out here?!?" category, the perfectly awful Dartmouth Big Green try to stave off an 0-for-season when they travel to Ithaca to take on Cornell. Fresh off a hard-fought victory over Princeton, Cornell is in serious contention for a second-place League finish. (Considering their 2-5 overall record, this doesn't say much for the League, but I digress.) The Green, meanwhile, will try to capitalize on whatever momentum they can muster from their moral victory in a one-point loss to first-place Harvard in Hanover. Dartmouth will put up a fight, but they're just not tough enough this year to close it out.
Pick: Cornell 12, Dartmouth 6 (yeah, it'll be that ugly)

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