Tuesday, November 09, 2004

WEEK 9 PREVIEW: IT'S TITLE TIME

Well, the story of the week is clearly the match-up of undefeateds that will take place this Saturday at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia. #15 Harvard, the only team in I-AA without a loss, will try to keep #17 Penn from three-peating. Everything that can be said about this game has been said in so many other places, but some things to look for :

  • Harvard sophomore RB and Payton Award candidate Clifton Dawson
  • Penn senior WR Dan Castles, who is also on his way to breaking the school record for TD catches in a career
  • The kicking game...Penn has been living and dying by it all season...will it be a factor? The Princeton game was won by a freshman making his first career FG....
  • Home field advantage...in the last ten years, this match-up is almost always won by the home team. Will Harvard be able to overcome that?
  • Pressure...winning a title in the first place is hard enough. Winning the second time is even more difficult. But three times in a row??? Teams have been gunning for Penn all season long, and this young team has thus far held up pretty well. But Harvard is no Columbia or Cornell. They have established themselves as an elite program and this could well be the hardest game the Quakers have seen all year.
  • Prediction: PENN 23, Harvard 21

Meanwhile, the rest of the League is playing for pride. Particularly Cornell, who is suddenly on the way to having a respectable season after many picked them to finish dead last this year. Here are my picks for the other three games:

Harvard and Yale have "The Game", but Princeton and Yale have the longest-running series in the Ivy League, and the second-longest in the country behind Lehigh-Lafayette. The disappointing Bulldogs host the Tigers this weekend in what I like to call the "wounded animal" match-up. Both teams have severely damaged pride after painful losses. Princeton has lost its last two games by a combined two points, and although former Payton award candidate Alvin Cowan passed for over 400 yds against Brown last week, it wasn't enough to create a win for his team. It will be tight, but Yale is ultimately the more solid squad and they will take the home field advantage for all it's worth. Prediction: Yale 21, Princeton 17

In-state rivals Columbia and Cornell meet in Harlem this weekend (oh, sorry..."Morningside Heights") in a pride game. Columbia is looking for a win...any win, and Cornell is trying to clinch a winning record in the League. The Lions got hosed in Cambridge last week, and Cornell had to work a little too hard in a 14-7 win over dismal Dartmouth. Prediction: Columbia 12, Cornell 10

Finally, in a match-up only their mothers could love, winless Dartmouth hosts Brown in an attempt to muster some dignity out of this season. Brown is coming off a surprising win over Yale in New Haven last weekend, while Dartmouth lost yet another close game to Cornell. The Big Green are just too...well, green, this year. Prediction: Brown 31, Dartmouth 17.


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