Friday, November 13, 2015

Expect Victory

Columbia Lions at Cornell Big Red

November 14, 2015
Kickoff time: 12:30pm

: Schoelkopf Field
Game Time Weather: 40 degrees and cloudy (but note that games at Schoelkopf this time of year often start comfortably mild and then become bitterly cold and even snowy by the late 3rd quarter. I've been burned by those sudden weather changes many times).

The Spread: Columbia is favored by 8 points

TV/Radio: Jerry Recco and Sal Licata provide superior play-by-play and audio commentary on the Ivy League Digital Network

Columbia Game Notes

Cornell Game Notes

Leading Story Lines

1) Last chance for Cornell

The Columbia-Cornell game last year in New York City featured two winless teams desperate for what everyone believed was their last chance to get a win in 2014. That turned out to be true as the Big Red outlasted the Lions in a thriller game.

One year later only one team is winless coming into this game, and while Columbia has enjoyed the most dramatic improvement and two victories, even Cornell is much improved over last year's woeful team.

So this is still a game to stay out of the Ivy cellar, but the quality of the teams is truly improved. However, it's not clear if that will produce as exciting a game as last year.

2) Hagy's day?

Over the last three seasons, RB Luke Hagy has been the only real bright spot for the Big Red. This is his final home game and it stands to reason he will be more heavily featured in the Cornell offense than usual.

3) A Great Rivalry

Cornell hasn't won an Ivy football title since 1990. Columbia's drought goes all the way back to 1961. But this rivalry has produced the most balanced match up in the Ivies over the past 25 years. From 1990-2014, Cornell has won 13 games and Columbia 12. Awareness of the exciting back-and-forth nature of this rivalry is one factor in the reasoning that led the league to reschedule this game as the season finale for both teams beginning in 2018.

4) Columbia expecting to win

It's not just that Cornell is 0-8, it's because Columbia matches up so well to the Big Red's weaknesses. The Lions have been so good against the run, and so strong rushing the passer that they have an excellent chance to control the game,

5 Columbia Players to Watch

-It's another important game for junior LB Keith Brady #52. He'll likely be the first on the spot to try to stop Hagy on the run and on the swing pass. Brady needs to have at least a decent day.

-Senior RB Cameron Molina #31. Molina had a career day against Cornell last year and the Big Red run defense is still quite weak. This is Molina's chance to change the game's focus and steal the spotlight from Hagy. 

-Senior WR Scooter Hollis #19. The Big Red's pass defense isn't all that great either. Hollis could be the man who benefits the most from that.

-Senior DE Chad Washington #4. Cornell's pass protection has been the worst in the league. Washington, just portrayed very nicely in this week's episode of WNYC's "The Season," has to be licking his chops in preparation for this game. 

-Senior DT Niko Padilla #93. While Washington pursues the Big Red QB's from the outside, Padilla will come right up the middle to cut off Hagy's running lanes and rattle the passer. Most teams have effectively double-teamed Padilla and he's all about giving the linebackers a clear path to the ball carrier. Cornell may not be able to contain Padilla all by himself.

5 Cornell Players to Watch 

-Senior RB Luke Hagy #25. It's not only about how well Hagy runs and catches the ball, but also how hard he gets hit and is able to get back up. 

-Junior QB Robert Somborn #5. Somborn has been known to panic quickly under the rush and his sketchy accuracy suffers in even normal defensive pressure. If Columbia stacks the box with eight defenders as I expect they will to stop Hagy, it will all be up to Somborn to win the game for Cornell. 

-Senior WR/KR Ben Rogers #18. If anyone not named "Luke Hagy" is going to have a stellar game, it's the quick Rogers who can hurt you as a receiver if Somborn has time and as a kick returner against Columbia's suddenly somewhat questionable return coverage.

-Senior LB JJ Fives #10. Fives will be the one to cut off Molina's outside running and receiving lanes, and also may be part of the defense against short passes to Hollis.

-Sophomore DB Nick Gesualdi #41. A rising star in the Ivies. Look to see how much he's able to help against the Columbia running game or if he'll have the freedom to hinder receivers and pick off passes.


I remain, very truly yours, Richard Szathmary said...

Also worth noting today: both men's and women's basketball opened with wins, The women needed OT to triumph 70-68 over UMBC, but the men never trailed and won 107-62 over Kean.

Rosenberg, Mullins and Lo, upon whom so much hope is heaped for this season, all sat down for good early in the second half. Each after showing Coach Smith that they're fine. Instead, the bulk of the Lions' second half scoring was handled by soph Nate Hickman and freshman C.J. Davis, a guard who pays like a power forward. Kean was clearly outclassed, simply could not get a rebound for most of the game, but an an aggressive style of play kept things relatively close in the first half.

Unfortunately, Kean's first-half fouling also revealed something one does not normally associate witb CU basketball: bad foul shooting this morning (and I do mean MORNING, given that the game began at 11AM). Let's hope this one is just temporary.

Also saw several longtime football season ticketholder stalwarts there at Levien Gym. Columbia has great, loyal fans, something I hope the administration realizes and respects. It's been a good autumn for most Lions sports. (I note that the always under-sung men's x-country team won an Ivy title, for example.) With both men's and women's basketball, occasion for roaring will continue this winter, I suspect.

Chen1982 said...

I am as excited about MBB as I am about FB. The future is bright for FB but the time is now for MBB. Who is this freshman CJ Davis? Seems we have almost as good a bench as we do our starting five! Watch out Kansas State. We might just pull off a shocker

Jake said...

Davis was a huge recruit we snagged a while back but had to send to the Peddie School for some PG time. He was a star at Archbishop Molloy and it made local headlines when he committed to us. He's from my former home of Far Rockaway so he's an instant favorite.