Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Logjams ahead

For the first time since 1982, it seems likely that we will see a three-way tie for the Ivy League football title.

All that needs to happen is a Penn win at home over Cornell, a Dartmouth win at home over Princeton, and a Harvard win over Yale at the Bowl.

All three of those outcomes are rather strongly favored to come to pass. So what's more remarkable are the things that had to happen to get to this point in the first place.

First, Dartmouth had to overcome an 0-10 season just seven years ago and rebuild the program. Even with the improvements overall, it took the recruitment of a once-in-a-generation QB like Dalyn Williams to finally make the Big Green a championship caliber team. And it also took keeping him free of major injuries even though he's played a mobile QB position for four years. The chances of all of those things happening are slim, but Dartmouth pulled it off.

Penn had to shake off the ill effects of two bad seasons in a row and the loss of the great Al Bagnoli as head coach. It also had to shake off a generally poor start to the season, especially the defense. It had to mount an amazing comeback to hold off Princeton two weeks ago. And finally, it had to beat a Harvard team on the road to leap into a tie for the top spot in the league.

Harvard's road to the top again this year is less impressive, but still not easy. The expected starting QB got injured before the season started, a top WR got injured down the stretch, and the early season schedule filled with cupcakes surely did the Crimson no favors.

At the other end of the Ivy spectrum, we could see another three-way tie. That would be for 5th place. If Columbia beats Brown, Penn beats Cornell, and Princeton loses to Dartmouth, CU, Brown and the Tigers will all be 2-5 in the league and in 5th place between Yale in fourth and Cornell in last.

For Columbia, that would be a nice jump from two straight winless years and the 7th place predicted finish for this season.

It's truly shaping up to be one of the most unusual seasons in Ivy football history. For a team that's been on the wrong side of history for so long, Columbia has to be happy with the beginning of a possible trend.

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