Friday, September 30, 2016

Rainy Re-Start

Princeton Tigers (1-1) at Columbia Lions (0-2)

October 1, 2016

Location: Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium 

Kickoff Time: 12:00 (NOTE EARLIER TIME!!!)

ALSO NOTE: The A train is NOT running this Saturday!

Game Time Weather Forecast: 62 degrees and showers

The Spread: Princeton is favored by 4 1/2 points


The game is on national TV on FOX College Sports. Check your local listings.

Leading Story Lines

1) Columbia has disappointed overall with its mostly punchless offense, while Princeton has disappointed with its porous pass defense. The Tigers hope to use this game to make their case for a serious run at the Ivy title. The Lions hope to use this game to make their case that the program has truly improved and can win key games. 

2) Heavy, or at least steady, rain is expected during the game and for hours going into kickoff. That will change the game plans for both teams and could even everything out completely. Such was the case last year at Princeton when heavy rain led to a 10-5 Tiger win.

3) Columbia Head Coach Al Bagnoli has three teams he seems to mostly get the better of as both the coach of Penn and now at Columbia: Yale, Dartmouth, and Princeton. Columbia played its best three Ivy games against those three teams last year. Somehow, Bagnoli gets his teams fired up for these opponents in particular.

Players to Watch

-Lion QB's Skyler Mornhinweg #8 and Anders Hill #12. As of this moment, we really don't know who's getting the start. Frankly, neither one has made the best case for deserving the starting role in the two games Columbia has played so far. Someone needs to step up.

-Princeton RB Joe Rhattigan #36. On a rainy day, the straight-ahead running Rhattigan figures to be more in the mix than the cutting speedster Charlie Volker #20. Rhattigan should be the go-to guy if the Tigers can run the ball at all. 

-Columbia DT Lord Hyeamang #95. Princeton is likely to try to bust things right up the middle and that's where the juniors Hyeamang and Dominic Perkovic will need to shine. So too will up-and-coming DT backup freshman Arman Samouk #53

-Princeton WR Isaiah Barnes #14. Barnes has been basically kept out of the key aspects of Princeton's offensive attack over the first two weeks of the season. This is the kind of game where the Tigers would like to get him into the mix.

If, Then

1) If it really rains as much as expected and the field is as wet as it can be, then the team that wants it more will win. Usually, talent makes the ultimate difference. But in poor conditions, the will is dominant.

2) If neither Mornhinweg or Hill show effective QB play, look for the Lions to try quick straight-ahead runs all day no matter what. 

3) If Princeton decided to ditch QB Chad Kanoff in the rain, then alternate QB/WR John Lovett will take all the snaps and run the ball himself 20+ times. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Week 3 Picks

I went 3-2 last week both straight up and against the spread to bring my overall record this season to 7-5 SU and 8-4 ATS.

Harvard -22 1/2 vs. Georgetown

The Hoyas are about to have a rude awakening. The rain makes me a little nervous about such a big point spread, but the Crimson will cover.

Brown -12 1/2 at Rhode Island

The Bears are playing well enough on offense to prove they can cover a double-digit spread on the road in the rain.

Colgate -13 1/2 vs. Cornell

Cornell's carriage is about to turn back into a pumpkin this weekend on the road.

Lehigh -7 1/2 at Yale

Lehigh's offense will only have the weather to contend with. The Eli defense isn't going to show up.

Penn +13 1/2 at Dartmouth

The Quakers are staring at an 0-3 start while Dartmouth looks like a surprise title contender. Penn will make a stand here and win the game.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Instant Redemption? Scouting Princeton

Joe Rhattigan

Every Columbia fan wants more wins, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a fan who wouldn't trade these opening two losses to St. Francis and Georgetown for a win this Saturday at home against Princeton.

That's just the way it goes in a non-playoff participating league like the Ivies, where in-league games actually decide who wins championships. The Ivy games also all represent more than century-old rivalries that transcend athletics. 

As for this year, the Lions are searching for that breakout win that can rally the fans and make them some new ones. 

Here's what they'll be up against this weekend:


We've come to think of Princeton as a passing team over the last few years, but so far this year the Tigers have been featuring a two-headed running monster attack. RB's Joe Rhattigan and Charlie Volker have combined for an average of 150 yards per game. They also both sport yards per carry averages of more than five yards. 

By contrast, the passing attack has been spotty. Primary QB Chad Kanoff has no TD passes and four INT's. QB/WR John Lovett has completed eight of 12 passes so far, but as a receiver he hasn't made the biggest impact with just seven catches and none for more than 10 yards. Dangerous receiver Isaiah Barnes hasn't made a big impact yet. 

This kind of imbalance is odd for a team that's scoring so many points overall, (31.5 per game). But one reason is Princeton has been just fantastic on 3rd down, converting them at a stunning 52% clip. Of course, when your running game is so good that you rarely face 3rd and long, that can happen. 

And that's been the key to the Tigers so far this season. They run a lot of plays and are staying competitive with a running attack and scoring TD's every time they get into the red zone. 


Princeton's opponents have been passing as well as the Tigers have been running. Lehigh and Lafayette have combined for a stunning 11.2 yards per pass attempt against a Princeton secondary that's trying to adjust to losing some All Ivy great players like Anthony Gaffney. The Tigers still have senior DB Dorian Williams, who is excellent, but he's been forced to shoulder way too much of a load on his own. With Columbia's passing game showing so much weakness so far, the question is whether this game will provide healing opportunities for Princeton's passing defense or the best evidence yet that it's not ready for prime time.

The run defense has been good, and not just because Tiger opponents have been passing so much. Lehigh and Lafayette still ran the ball plenty and collectively averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. The senior trio of LB's Brik Olson, Rohan Hylton, and Luke Catarius are getting the job done. Sophomore LB Mike Wagner is getting in some licks too. 

The defensive line is getting two sacks a game and finally seeing some results from the super-hyped Kurt Holuba. 

Special Teams

The big potential star here is freshman punt returner Tiger Bech. Punter Tyler Roth has been excellent. Placekicker Tavish Rice has been perfect on all nine of his PAT's, but he hasn't attempted even one field goal yet. 


I thought Princeton had a chance to make a run for the Ivy title this year, but it's first two games seem to put those thoughts in doubt. On the other hand, the Tigers under current Head Coach Bob Surace have often played very different football in weeks one and two than they do the rest of the year. The Columbia game is usually the contest where you learn the most about where Princeton is going. So pay close attention. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Half n' Half

Georgetown 17 Columbia 14

Why Georgetown Won

The Hoyas jumped out to an early lead by cashing in on Columbia turnovers and avoiding any of their own the entire game. Then, Georgetown's defense was just strong enough to keep the Lion comeback from going all the way.

Why Columbia Lost

Four Lion turnovers, a missed field goal, and continuing offensive rustiness doomed Columbia. A herculean defensive effort was wasted.

Key Turning Points

-Late in the 1st quarter and trailing 7-0, Lion punter Matthew Panton booted the first of his two punts in the game that would be downed at the Georgetown one. But after the CU defense forced a three-and-out, the ensuing Hoya punt was fumbled away by freshman Josh Wainwright and GU got a big second chance. The Hoyas eventually turned that miscue into a field goal and a 10-0 lead.

-Late in the second quarter, Columbia QB Skyler Mornhinweg and the Lions took over on their own 18 yard line and began a drive that finally stalled at the Georgetown 16. But kicker Cameron Nizialek missed the 34-yard field goal try and Columbia came up empty in the first half.

Columbia Positives

-The Lion defense held Georgetown to just eight 1st downs and 195 total yards. Time and again in the second half, the D came up with the key stops to provide the offense every chance it needed to win.

-It may seem like Columbia made every mistake in the book, but they only committed six penalties in their second week of the season.

-Columbia rushed for a respectable 172 yards and 4.1 yards per carry.

Columbia Negatives

-Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.

-The passing game is just not there yet. a 3.9 yards per pass attempt stat is stunningly low.

Columbia MVP

-Once again, all the Lion linebackers were dominant throughout the game, but Gianmarco Rea stood out just a bit more than his peers.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Game Day Open Thread

Post here for any thoughts you have during today's game at Georgetown.

One possible piece of news is that Hoya defensive star J'V'on Butler is listed as a backup in the late-released Georgetown two-deeps, (

It could mean nothing, it could mean he's a little banged up, or it could be some of the usual two-deep trickery most teams seem to use these days.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Second Try

Cooper Field

Columbia Lions (0-1) at Georgetown Hoyas (2-0)

September 24, 2016

Location: Cooper Field

Kickoff Time: 2:00

Game Time Weather Forecast: 76 degrees and partly cloudy

The Spread: Georgetown is favored by 2 points


Video of the game is free on the Patriot League Digital Network.  But superior audio commentary is also free on the Ivy League Digital Network with Jerry Recco and Sal Licata. 

Columbia Game Notes

(Georgetown game notes are still not available, but here are their game notes from their most recent game against Marist)

Leading Story Lines

1) Columbia comes in with a certain sense of urgency after losing its opening game to Saint Francis and looking punchless on offense. Any slow start for the offense in this game could be indicative of more than just opening week jitters or a rough transition to the new offensive system.

2) Georgetown is having its Homecoming in its tiny little venue/2,500 seat stadium. There will surely be Lions fans in the crowd, but how the team responds to playing in probably the smallest stadium in program history will be interesting. 

3)  The Hoyas are 2-0, but they've defeated two of the worst teams in FCS football. It's possible this team is quite a bit worse than it was last year. Columbia has already played one quality opponent, Georgetown has not. 

Players to Watch

-Lion QB Skyler Mornhinweg #8 had a rough start to the season against Saint Francis. If he doesn't get in some kind of a groove, not much else will matter for the offense. 

-Columbia LG Charlie Flores #79 and LT Kendall Pace #76 will likely be challenged all day with blitzes, at least if Georgetown bothered to watch last week's Lion game film. It'll be up to them to respond to the pressure. 

-Georgetown RB Alex Valles #6 has been something of a "Mr. Everything" for the Hoyas as a rusher and a receiver. Columbia must show it can shut him down.

-Georgetown J'V'on Butler #34 is the most likely defensive player to be doing the left side blitzing and otherwise trying to disrupt the offense. 

If, Then

-If the Columbia offense moves the ball and scores in its first or second possession of the game, a significant amount of the pressure will come off Mornhinweg and the entire team. 

-If the Georgetown running game is able to make significant gains early in the game, the Hoyas will abandon their frequent short passing game and try to defeat Columbia the same way St. Francis did with ball control.

-If the Columbia D-line, especially DE Connor Heeb, is able to put pressure on GU QB Tim Barnes, then look for the Hoyas to start committing a barrage of turnovers.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Week Two Picks

Okay, I had a pretty good week to start the season, going 4-3 straight up but an impressive 5-2 against the spread.

Now on to week 2:

Brown +16 vs. Harvard

I think this is going to be a very exciting game that goes down to the wire. I have to go with the Crimson, but the Bears will keep it close.

Cornell +9 1/2 vs. Yale

Yale looked just awful against Colgate and Cornell was better than it's looked in years in its win at Bucknell last week. If Yale loses this game, even by one point, it's disaster time in New Haven. I think Cornell will win.

Princeton +3 at Lehigh

The Tigers always play Lehigh really well, and I think they're generally a team on the rise. Take Princeton to win.

Penn +6 at Fordham

After the 2nd half collapse against Lehigh, I think the Quakers are looking to make a statement. I like Penn to win.

Dartmouth +8 at Holy Cross

Okay, so maybe UNH wasn't such a good team after all. But Dartmouth's defense is the real deal and the offense has weapons. Holy Cross can be very erratic. I like the Big Green to cover and win.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Scouting Georgetown

Tim Barnes

Even though the Hoyas have played two games, it's still very hard to get a good handle on Georgetown so far.

The Hoyas are 2-0 after a blowout win at home over lowly Davidson and a nail-biter win over perhaps even lowlier Marist on the road.

The brightest star on the team so far this year has been junior RB Alex Valles, who's averaging 93 yards per game and a hefty seven yards per carry. Senior QB Tim Barnes looks solid so far, averaging more than 200 yards passing per game and completing 60+% of his passes. Junior WR Justin Barnes, after missing his sophomore season to injury, is starting to look like Georgetown's top receiver. Barnes played at the famous Cardinal Newman HS in New Orleans and could be a truly rising star.

The O-line is manned by four returning starters and has looked pretty good so far. There are no 300-pounders, but a few guys at about 290.

On defense, sophomore LB J'V'on Butler is the leader with 14 total tackles and two for a loss. Senior DE Hunter Kiseleck is off to a good start too. The secondary seems to have a sophomore rising star in Ramon Lyons. Overall, the Hoyas have looked strong against the run and weak against the pass.

The special teams are solid, with the only possible star being kickoff returner Isaac Ellsworth, who's averaging 33 yards per return... but he's only had three returns.

All in all, GU looks very vulnerable. Columbia knows it should have defeated the Hoyas last year save for an series of crucial mental errors at the end of the first half. The biggest challenge may be the simple fact that the game is on the road and it's Georgetown's Homecoming weekend on a little bandbox of a field.

D. Keith Mano (1942-2016)

Keith Mano

In case anyone thinks I am the #1 most dedicated and prolifically literary Columbia Football fan of all time, the truth is I really never was.

That distinction probably belonged to author and 1963 Columbia graduate D. Keith Mano. And I am saddened to say that Mano died last week in Manhattan at the age of 74.

Fans who came out to Columbia games in the 70's, 80's, and most of the 90's couldn't miss Mano as he was one of the loudest fans in attendance at Baker Field and then Wien Stadium. He also came to the freshman football games on Friday nights, wrote articles in the New York Times about the tortured Columbia fan experience, and did it all while conducting a very successful literary and screenwriting career. He was even born in Inwood!

I have no doubt that if the Internet and blogging existed in the 1980's, Mano would have blogged about the team in a way that far surpasses my own efforts.

But sometime around the year 2000, Mano started to succumb to Parkinson's. We stopped seeing him at the games and stopped hearing from him altogether. I had been quietly hoping that he would recover and we'd see him again, but alas.

Mano deserved to see Columbia win another Ivy title in his lifetime. It didn't happen, but at least the Lions won the championship while he was a student during his junior year of 1961.

I never really personally knew him, but I've been aware of how in many ways I've been carrying on his legacy. And it deserves to be remembered.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Week One Ivy Takeaways

Jack Heneghan

Biggest Result

Dartmouth's 22-21 win over New Hampshire seems most significant because of the play of QB Jack Heneghan. It appears Heneghan was just the emergency starter for the supposed top QB Bruce Dixon. But it may be hard to get Heneghan out of the starting slot now. Also the Dartmouth defense looked better than advertised.

Big Deals

Penn's defense was mostly AWOL in its 49-28 loss to to Lehigh. The Quakers gave up 200+ yards rushing, 300+ yards passing and had no sacks. I can't remember the last time Penn played a game with no sacks. The Quakers started the season slowly last year, so perhaps this game is only a blip.

I've never seen Yale worse than the Elis looked in their 55-13 loss at home to Colgate. The stats were ugly, but watching the game on tape was worse. The Yale D-line looked like blocking dummies all day. It was a stunningly bad performance for Tony Reno's team, and I'm the guy who picked the Bulldogs to come 7th!

Brown's offense got back into normal Phil Estes era mode as it exploded past a 21-0 deficit to beat Bryant 35-27. This game would be a bigger deal if it weren't for the fact that the Bears running attack still wasn't great and Brown is almost always a fast starting team.

Cornell's 24-16 win over Bucknell was mostly impressive thanks to the great performance from sophomore RB Chris Walker who ran for 141 yards in his first start. The Big Red now gets to host a Yale team on its heels.

No Surprises

Harvard whipped the first of its three non-conference whipping boys by dismantling Rhode Island, 51-21. New QB Joe Viviano finally got his first start and he threw for 290 yards, three TD's, and no interceptions.

Princeton beat Lafayette 35-31, in a mostly expected result. But the new Tiger secondary was porous, giving up 350+ yards. On the bright side, RB Joe Rhattigan proved he's ready to be the primary starter as he had 136 yards on 22 carries and three TD's.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Final Thoughts on Week One and a New Lion

Before we close the book on the week 1 loss to St. Francis, I wanted to add some more important thoughts:

1) I knew SFU would come out and test new starting safety Landon Baty. He was the only new starter in what everyone knew was a good secondary. I guess I didn't publish that because I didn't want the Red Flash to burn him and then get blamed for alerting the opponent to a potential weakness. As it turned out, St. Francis went right after Baty and he broke up two passes in the first series, the second of which saved a touchdown. Not only did SFU stop testing Baty after that, they pretty much abandoned the passing attack altogether.

2) Cameron Nizialek's 38-yard FG in the 3rd quarter looked like it would have been good from 50+ yards. The missed PAT later in the game is a concern.

3) Not only was the 13-9 score identical to final tally in the loss at Dartmouth last year, so was the fact that the Lions somehow found a way to lure St. Francis into a number of personal foul penalties just as they did against the Big Green. Two Red Flash players were even ejected. To be fair, it doesn't seem like Columbia really did anything to induce the fouls.

Alexander Filacouris

New Lion

As a Long Island resident myself, I am always about the quality level of high school football around here. While it does seem to have dropped off since the 1980's, you only have to take a look at Lions like Jared Katz to know that there's still plenty of top level talent over here.

With that in mind, Half Hollow Hills West HS RB Alexander Filacouris has committed to Columbia. He had offers from Navy and Holy Cross among others. MSG varsity listed him as one of the top 100 players on Long Island. 

Filacouris would be the first documented Half Hollow Hills West grad to come to Columbia.

Here is our unofficial commit list so far:

1) Josh Bean QB 6-2 200 lbs. Hinsdale HS Hinsdale, IL

2) Seth DeVary OL 6-4 275 lbs. Larue County HS Hodgenville, KY

3) Alexander Filacouris RB 6-1 200 lbs. Half Hollow Hills West HS Dix Hills, NY 

4) Tyson Hugee DB 6-0 170 lbs. Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Philadelphia, PA

5) Josh Kaminsky DL 6-4 280 lbs. Seton Hall Prep West Orange, NJ

6) Cameron Lipton-Martinez TE/DE 6-5 225 lbs. Montclair HS Montclair, NJ

7) Jake McCurry WR/DB 6-0 180 lbs. Solon HS Solon, OH

8) Carson Powell DB 6-0 190 lbs. Cardinal Newman HS Palm Beach, FL

9) Bailey Rotsky DB/WR Mayfield Heights HS Mayfield Heights, OH

10) Jonathan Rowe OL 6-3 283 lbs. Audrey Kell HS Charlotte, NC

11) Drew Schmid P 6-0 205 lbs. La Jolla Country Day La Jolla, CA  

12) Hank White OL 6-6 250 lbs. Buford HS Buford, GA

13) Ashton Cooper Wilson DE/LB 6-3 230 lbs. Merritt Island HS Merritt Island, FL

14) Peter Wise OL 6-5 290 lbs. Brunswick School Greenwich, CT

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fits and Starts

St. Francis 13 Columbia 9

Why St. Francis Won

The Red Flash played mostly error-free ball, committing no turnovers and getting excellent production from RB Marcus Bagley. And after three-plus quarters of conservative football, St. Francis finally cashed in on a bomb for what turned out to be the game-winning TD. 

Why Columbia Lost

The Lions new offense simply was not fully ready to go against an opponent with two games already under its belt. QB Skyler Morhinweg never got into a groove and the Red Flash blitz wreaked havoc way too often and netted five sacks. Still, Columbia could have easily won save for a couple of major errors at inopportune times. 

Key Turning Points

-Trailing 3-0 with about two minutes left in the half, the Lions looked like they were about to go in for a TD and a go ahead score. But a fumbled exchange at the five was recovered by St. Francis and Columbia came away with nothing. 

-Down 6-3 early in 4th quarter, the CU defense had the Red Flash in a hole with a 3rd and nine at their own three yard line    But an offsides penalty suddenly made it a manageable 3rd and four. Three plays later, St. Francis cashed in on its home run ball 72-yard TD. 

Columbia Positives 

-The Lion defense outperformed holding a team that had averaged 30 points a game against the best competition in the FCS to 13 points. The D was particularly good on 3rd down, allowing St. Francis to convert on just three of 15 opportunities. The much worried-about defensive line did fine against possibly the most veteran and talented O-line it will face all year, netting two sacks of its own. Finally, the Lion return game actually outdid the much-heralded SFU return machine Lorenzo Jerome. Freshman Josh Wainwright had one nifty 26-yard punt return and two nice kickoff returns as well. 

Columbia Negatives

-The offense didn't pack a punch and made too many mistakes. There was too much pressure on Mornhinweg, and no consistency in the running game. A couple of dropped passes also hurt. And the turnovers were killers. 

Columbia MVP

-All the Lion linebackers had a stellar game, but senior Keith Brady really stood out with his 14 tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup. Several of his tackles were timely hard hits as well. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Start at a Sprint

St. Francis Red Flash (0-2) vs. Columbia Lions (0-0)

September 17, 2016

Location: Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium/Baker Athletics Complex

Kickoff Time: 1:00

Game Time Weather Forecast: 76 degrees and partly cloudy

The Spread: St. Francis is favored by 3 points


The game can be seen and heard live on the Ivy League Digital Network with superior play-by-play and commentary from Jerry Recco and Sal Licata.

Columbia Game Notes

St. Francis Game Notes (will appear soon on this link)

Leading Story Lines

1) The Red Flash are 0-2, but look formidable after two straight near losses to FCS powerhouses Montana and Towson on the road. That, plus their two weeks of actual game experience versus no real tests for this 2016 Lions team give St. Francis some keen advantages.

2) Columbia unveils a new up-temp offense with no huddles and a myriad of new weapons. The last time the Lions went with an up-tempo attack, it was 2002 and it was to cover up for a lack of offensive options after the graduation of all-time rusher Johnathan Reese. This time, the opposite seems to be true with talented veterans at QB and all along the offensive line, plus several promising new receivers.

3) The key matchup in the game should be between the very strong and talented St. Francis offensive line and Columbia's untested defensive line featuring three new starters. The Lions need to show up with a D-line that can challenge anyone.

Players to Watch

-Columbia WR Josh Wainwright is a freshman phenom the likes of which we haven't since in Lion land in years. Now's the time to show he's earned wearing Odell Beckham's #13.

-St. Francis CB/KR Lorenzo Jerome is a lethal threat whenever he has the ball or is ever near it. You can't kick to him, period. And when you're on offense, you need to be ready for him to take the ball away.

-Columbia QB Skyler Mornhinweg did a solid job last year despite the late arrival on campus and the massive adjustment to the Ivy League from the University of Florida. Now with the added prep time and the team's confidence behind him, will he emerge as a top player in the league?

-St. Francis RB Marcus Bagley has looked pretty good in his first two games against big defenses. He could have breakout game vs. the Lions if his offensive line is indeed dominant.

If, Then...

-If Columbia's new fast offense operates without major mistakes and a bevvy of penalties in week one, then it will be a good sign that this team and coaching staff are really in fabulous sync.

-If Columbia's defensive line looks effective against the Red Flash big boys up front, then it means the Lions can play with anyone.

-If Lorenzo Jerome disrupts the game at every turn, then it means Columbia did not prepare or execute well enough based on days worth of data to work with.

-If more than five of the 10 Columbia freshmen listed on the two-deep get significant playing time and make an impact, then we'll immediately know all the hype about this recruiting class was for real.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Week 1 Picks

I did so badly against the spread last year, that I was considering not bothering returning to my weekly picks. But I cannot be a coward!

Rhode Island +31 1/2 at Harvard

Huge spreads on week one are really hard to swallow. I think Harvard will win, but I need to see more of the Crimson, or at least SOME of the Crimson, playing before I pick them to win by almost five TD's.

Colgate +3 1/2 at Yale

Yale is losing players so fast, it's hard to see how they salvage this season. Colgate should win.

Lafayette +18 1/2 at Princeton

Princeton will win, and the Tigers DO have a penchant for outperforming in weeks one and two. But this spread is just too rich for my blood.

Penn -9 1/2 vs. Lehigh

The Quakers look stacked this year.

Bucknell -7 1/2 vs. Cornell

I don't think Cornell will have its lineup figured out this early.

New Hampshire +5 at Dartmouth

The Big Green is a bit banged up. I think the game will be somewhat close, but UNH will win.

Brown +2 1/2 at Bryant

Brown will win, as the Bears almost always start strong.

Fan's Guide to Going to a Columbia Football Game 2016 (WITH SPECIAL EATING OPTIONS UPDATE)

The Athletics Department has already done a nice job of letting all the fans know about what to expect once they GET to Wien Stadium at the Baker Athletics Complex this season. You can read all about that here. 

But this is my annual look at HOW TO GET to Columbia games, park, etc. in the first place:

Remember this Sign...

... and remember this train!

The football home opener is THIS WEEKEND!

Time to start planning NOW!

I am here to help.

Every year, I publish my guide to getting to the Columbia home games at Kraft Field at Wien Stadium at the Baker Athletic Complex.

Every year, the top tip is the same: if you are coming to the game from Manhattan, TAKE THE SUBWAY!

The #1 train and the A train are both great choices to get to the stadium. I have more details on that a little later.

Your next best best is to take the free shuttle that will leave from the corner of East 86th Street and 3rd Avenue at 11:30am on home game days.

If you are driving: DON'T PANIC

Getting around New York City, and Manhattan in particular, is all about your state of mind. If you're an overly aggressive or too passive driver, you will either drop dead of a tension-induced stroke or become the victim of a panic attack, respectively. The city is fraught with double-parkers, Kamikaze cabs with no regard for life and limb, and people who routinely make right turns from the left lane.

But fear not! The road to the Baker Athletics Complex is filled with special advantages and other options that can make the whole experience livable, decent, and even fun.

The key to avoiding disappointment, dyspepsia, and dismemberment is to LEAVE YOURSELF A LOT OF TIME.

Other than the Homecoming game which starts at 1:30 this year, the Columbia home games will begin at 1pm this season. With another season's worth of great pre-game activities in the works, (like free beverages, even some beers for those of you over 21), the best thing that could happen is that you show up an hour or so before the game and enjoy a good time in the picnic area. Is that so bad? And if you just make it in time for the game, well then you made it. Either way, going early is the way to go.

Inwood or Morningside:  Make Your Choice Now

Before we talk about getting to the actual game by car, ask yourself where you'd really like to keep your gas-guzzling SUV for the day. Do you want to park it up at the very tip of Manhattan, or do you want to keep it near the Columbia campus where you can spend a very pleasant morning and late afternoon/evening before and after the game? This is not exactly a rhetorical question, as there ARE things to do and see not far from Wien Stadium... but it's not exactly a culinary hotbed, in fact it's quite residential, (in the Baker Field neighborhood of Inwood there are actually a few houses... detached houses in Manhattan!). There are new choices lately. Just over the Broadway Bridge north of the stadium there's a strip mall with an Applebee's and a Starbucks!


You can park very close to the stadium at many of the parking garages within 1-6 blocks of Baker. Most of them are on 10th Avenue between 205th and 215th Streets. I usually use the garage right at the corner of 10th Ave. and 215th.

You can also park the car near the Columbia campus, which is only 100 blocks or so from Baker Field, There is still more to do, see, and definitely eat around there.

A path in Inwood Hill Park... yes, this IS Manhattan!

BUT definitely choose one game, and check out Inwood and its environs during the season. Parts of Inwood Hill Park are the only pieces of Manhattan that still look as they did in 1524 when the Dutch explorers arrived.

A few blocks South of Inwood is Washington Heights a very resurgent neighborhood with lots of interesting Latin restaurants and shops.

The Cloisters... an excellent "Marital Bargaining Unit" if I say so myself

One Washington Heights highlight about 30 blocks South from the Baker Field is the lovely Cloisters. Most Columbia students get sick of the Cloisters after a few years, (some classes make you go there too many times), but it's a great place for the uninitiated. It's also not a bad date spot. So, if you have a wife or girlfriend who's none too pleased about being dragged to a football game, the Cloisters can be your olive branch. No need to thank me if your lady ends up thinking you're a romantic genius; like Billy Flynn, "All I Care about is Love."

But How Do We Get to Neverland?

The directions provided by the athletic department are very good. You can use them with confidence... but don't ignore the key section of those directions for people coming from Queens, Long Island, Eastern Brooklyn via the Belt Parkway, and that includes JFK Airport and La Guardia. If you are one of those people, I'm about to save you anywhere from 45 minutes to 7 hours by urging you to never, never, even if you're a Penn fan, NEVER take the Cross Bronx Expressway!

The Cross Bronx Expressway... dear Lord, why us?

The Cross Bronx Expressway was designed by Robert Moses a brilliant but evil man whose disdain for ordinary people was well documented by Robert Caro in The Power Broker. If you live in New York, drive in New York, or are thinking about driving in New York, you owe it to yourself to read this book. One great section details how the Cross Bronx Expressway was poorly designed from the outset, destroyed good middle class neighborhoods like East Tremont, and virtually guarantees traffic jams at the drop of a hat. And the kicker is, a lot of other urban planners in the 40's, 50's and 60's emulated this man and his designs. Robert Moses is a big reason why driving in America sucks.

So avoid the Cross Bronx, take the Grand Central Parkway to the Triboro Bridge, (now named the "RFK Bridge," presumably to honor the old home of the Redskins ;) ), follow the signs to MANHATTAN, (DON'T MAKE The Bonfire of the Vanities mistake), and THEN take the Harlem River Drive North. Take the HRD to the 10th Avenue/Dyckman Street exit. Do NOT take the ramp going up to the George Washington Bridge, stay in the far right lane. Take the HRD to the end and  make the first right at the first light that will take you onto 10th Avenue. If you stay straight, (you'll be driving under an elevated subway track). 10th Avenue runs parallel to Broadway and will take you straight up to 215th Street, 218th Street, or wherever you want to go in the Baker Complex vicinity.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The Harlem River Drive is officially a parkway, so if you're driving a U-Haul or a big bus of people, you can't take it. Otherwise, you and your sedan, SUV, pickup truck, etc. can enjoy it. IF YOU'RE TAKING A CAB FROM THE QUEENS AIRPORTS... MAKE SURE YOU TELL THE CABBIE TO TAKE THE TRIBORO/RFK BRIDGE TO THE HARLEM RIVER DRIVE. DON'T LET THE DRIVER TAKE YOU INTO MIDTOWN MANHATTAN!!!

Parking: The Odyssey

Option 1: Donate to CU!

Now if you're going to park near Baker Field, your options are limited, but there ARE options. Your first option is to send a fat check to the athletic dept. and grab one of the sweet spots in the Baker Field complex itself reserved for generous donors. Seriously, I can think or worse ways to spend your money, and having a spot at Baker Field is like being a shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway during "Buffettstock, you get to enjoy your investment in a party atmosphere!

Option 2: Parking Garages Ahoy! 

They are all around the stadium now, especially on 10th Avenue. FYI: in the past, parking has cost fans about $15 for the whole game.

Option 3: Street Parking, or "The Hunt"

Of course, you can try being really sneaky and try to park for free on the residential streets around the area. This is really something for early-birds, as the spots fill up fast. In fact, there aren't a lot of spots to begin with because Inwood is really residential and the local folks like to keep their spots for the weekend. BUT, the eagle-eyed among you may be able to find a nice spot and enjoy knowing that you're a winner even before kickoff by saving a few bucks with a free spot. There are a couple of important pitfalls to avoid:

a) If you aren't really good at parallel parking, don't even think about parking on the streets of Inwood. The hilly terrain makes even seasoned parkers a little nervous, and all those scratched bumpers and fenders on the parked cars are proof of the "goofs" people make from time to time.

b) Inwood is not really a high-crime area, especially during the day, but you should never tempt fate. Lock your cars. DO NOT keep any packages or valuables in plain sight in your car, and you probably should leave them out of the trunk too if you can. This is especially true if you are driving a car with out-of-state plates.

c) Make sure to check the street signs to see if you're parking in a legal spot. Saturdays are usually immune from alternate side of the street parking rules, but not always. You cannot park within six feet, either way, of a fire hydrant, and you also need to give a lot space for bus stops. You cannot block any driveways. And if there's a yellow stripe painted on the curb, you can't park there either. A good M.O. is to eye every open spot with EXTREME SUSPICION, the chances are more than likely that the spot is there because it's not a legal spot.

d) You may be hampered even further in your quest for free parking if the NYPD blocks 218th Street at Broadway which they often do on game days. To be safe, just find your way to Seaman Avenue, which runs parallel to Broadway on the WEST and start looking for spots there. You might consider printing out a Google Map of Inwood, NY to learn to navigate the local streets better. Remember to look out for one-way streets and the occasional street fair which often pops up and further kills parking opportunities on the weekends.


Manhattan is a great and unique place. One of the things that makes it so unique is that every inch of land is super-valuable and the chances of any institution setting aside lots of space for occasional parking is not likely or even sane. Most sensible people living in all parts of Manhattan do so without a car, regardless of their economic stature. A day or two driving around here will tell you why.

That's why we have the best, (but still too expensive), public transportation system in the world. And luckily, there are a number of more relaxing and reliable ways to get to Baker Field.

Public Transportation Option 1: From Columbia Campus

You can ditch your car at one of the many parking garages near the Columbia campus, or try to find free street parking, (it's not much easier than Inwood, but doable), and then take the free shuttle bus or public transportation.

To get the subway somewhat direct to the stadium you can 1) catch the uptown #1 train at 116th Street all the way to 215th Street. Easy.

You CAN 2) walk down the hill at West 110th Street, get on the uptown C train and switch at 168th Street for the A from there. That transfer does not involve the creepy elevator and is much better, but still not ideal.

I love taking the A train from start to finish.

Getting the A directly is a lot easier from Midtown Manhattan, where most hotels are located anyway. From the Columbia campus, you can also take the #1 DOWNTOWN to 59th and then get on the A train UPTOWN from there. It's not too terrible to do that actually.

If you're in Midtown Manhattan, I recommend taking the A at the 59th Street and Broadway station. It is a VERY short ride, (less than 20-25 minutes), from there. The A train runs on the far West side of Manhattan, through Brooklyn, past JFK airport, and all the way to a neighborhood where I did a lot of my growing up called Far Rockaway. The uptown or Manhattan bound A takes you the 207th Street stop, which is the last stop. Exit at the 211th Street exit and then you can either walk the seven blocks along Broadway, (about 35% of a mile), to Baker Field or better yet, enter Isham Park on your left and enjoy a nicer trip that will take you to Seaman Avenue along the left side of the park and you will see Wien Stadium right in front of you at the end of the avenue. This is a more scenic walk and will give you a better idea of what Inwood is like.

To ride the NYC subway you will need a Metrocard. Go to the ticket booth at the station or the automated Metrocard machines and buy a two-trip card. The machines take cash, credit and debit cards.

When you get to the platform, again make sure that you are on the UPTOWN side awaiting the UPTOWN train.


If the subway isn't for you, for the last several years Columbia has been running free shuttle buses to and from Baker Field on game days. They usually run from the 116th Street and Broadway entrance, but ask the security guards at the gate to be sure. I'm not sure how long it takes for these buses to reach the stadium, but they will always be slower than the subway. (There is no faster way to get around Manhattan than the subway... none).

And  there is now a bus running from the Upper East Side! It leaves from 3rd Avenue and East 86th Street 90 minutes prior to kickoff. 

A number of NYC buses, (not free, you need a Metrocard), run to the Baker Field area, but I really don't recommend using them. They are extremely slow, (what do you call it when you have sex on a NYC bus? "Joining the 3-mile-an-hour club"), and erratic on the weekends. BUT if there ever is a fire on the subway or something, it's good to know they're there.

The Marble Hill Station on Metro North

One of the most beautiful ways to get to a Columbia game is on the Metro North commuter railroad. Take the HUDSON RIVER LINE to the Marble Hill stop and simply walk over the footbridge to Baker Field. The views of the Hudson that you will get if you're coming from the North, (if you're looking to go this way from Grand Central Terminal, it's not a terrible idea, but much more expensive than just taking the subway from another station on the West Side), are just great. is the website to find the schedules for Saturdays from Grand Central to Marble Hill. Note the reliable 19-20 minute travel time and the many, many options you have for trains all the way through game time. If you are staying on the East Side of Manhattan, this is a GREAT option.

Cab Anyone?

You can always try to hail a yellow cab and tell the driver to take you to WEST 218th and Broadway, (don't say "Baker Field," there's a very good chance he won't know what you're talking about), and go that way. I expect the trip will cost about $15-$18 in cab fare not including tip... but it varies.

In NYC there are also non-yellow so-called "gypsy" cabs that may honk their horns at you and offer you a ride. The official rules in the city say that you can't take a ride with them without arranging it in advance, but I have found they are usually reliable. The price should be about the same as Yellow cab, but they don't use a meter... so make sure you agree on the fare before you get in.

What if I'm coming from New Jersey, and I want to take Public Transportation?

New Jersey Transit trains take you to Penn Station where you can get the A train, or a cab. I'm not sure about the reliability of NJT trains or buses on weekends, but perhaps some of my readers would like to chime in about that in the comments section.

Isn't the Subway Dangerous?

Not really. It's dirtier than it should be, but in general it's fine. Basically, keep your wallets and valuables secure, try to ride with or near larger groups of people, and try not to telegraph the fact you're a tourist by pulling out a map every two seconds. It's okay to ask fellow riders directions; most New Yorkers like proving they know the City.

I'm Coming from JFK, LaGuardia, or Newark Airport. What should I do?

A cab from Newark directly to Baker Field is actually not that terribly expensive. But from the other major airports, I suggest you get into Manhattan via a cab and then take the subway, unless you have lots of bags which will make the whole day a pain. In that case, try to get to your hotel first, dump the bags and then follow the directions above.

What if I get Lost?

Go into almost any store you see and ask for help. Store owners can sometimes seem surly, but they'll probably help you. Cops on the street will be good too.

Can't I Just Come with You?

I'd love the company, but I don't think that will work. I am with you in spirit, I promise.


I now turn the podium over to Inwood resident "Inwood Tiger", who knows the neighborhood really well and is a big Ivy football fan:  

2016 marks the 93rd year of Columbia football in Inwood.  A fair number of things have changed since then, such as the development of farmland and estates into housing, the creation of Inwood Hill Park and the Henry Hudson Bridge, the coming and going of industry on the other side of Broadway, and of course the gradual build-out of Baker Field into today's Baker Athletics Center.  For all of this and more, the excellent site MyInwoodNet offers a terrific guide to Inwood's past.

But for this fall, what is new in the area?  Much of the neighborhood is consumed in rezoning discussions for the old industrial lands east of Broadway and 10th Ave, the real estate market is heating up , and of course there are always changes to the ever-evolving local dining options.  

Here are my food-related recommendations for those visiting the area for a Lions game, listed in order of distance from the stadium.  Unless otherwise noted, there is no parking -- walk, take Uber or the train, or leave the car in a nearby garage.  (Street parking in Inwood is near-impossible; do not even attempt this futile exercise in madness!).  Leave some time in your day to explore Inwood and check out some of these spots and you'll be sure to head home happy, win or lose on the field.

1. INDIAN ROAD CAFE - Beloved coffee shop / restaurant / bar right across from the old stadium gates on 218th St.  Excellent food and drinks , but people really go for the atmosphere.  (Terrific live music and other programming).  

2. PARK TERRACE DELI - The quintessential New York deli experience, on 218th St near Broadway.  Not cheap, but they have everything you need and a great sandwich bar.

3. TWIN DONUT - Not entirely terrible ever since their renovation some years ago, and they do have sandwiches, but the donuts are almost guaranteed to be stale.  At Broadway and 218th St. They do have parking if you are driving in or out.

4. LA ESSENCIA - Broadway just south of 218th St.  This small spot is a favorite among locals for their prices and Dominican fare.  They also make a mean taco.

5. FOOD UNIVERSE - Handy supermarket (with massive beer selection) located at Broadway north of 215th St in case you need snacks or prepared foods.  

6. BROWN SUGAR - Brand new Cuban place at 215th and Broadway.  No hookahs; despite the lounge-like appearance it's a real restaurant.  Had a rough start, but I can vouch for their very good food (and a kids' menu too).  Rumor is the brunch is excellent.  Parking garage is just behind the restaurant on 10th Ave.  

7. CAFE CUERVAS - a troubled spot on Broadway south of 215th St constantly changing names and getting shut down by the police. Lost their liquor license earlier this year.  Avoid.

8. GUACAMOLE - New taco bar taking over the space that was formerly Rebounds, on Broadway at 214th St.  Should open sometime this fall.  Keep an eye on this one, could be Inwood's answer to Chipotle.  

9. CARROT TOP - Also on Broadway at 214th, this is an Inwood tradition.  Good cafe for sandwiches, great bakery for treats.

10. LIFFY II - At Broadway and 213th, the sole survivor of Inwood's once-numerous Irish bars.  Take the kids and show them what drinking in New York used to look like.

11. CHOC NYC - If you visit only one new place in Inwood this fall for a bite, make it ChocNYCMuch-heralded bakery/chocolate shop with tons of gourmet treats.  Located on Broadway just south of 212th St.

12. CAFE DE BROADWAY - Another Inwood hookah bar masquerading as a restaurant.  Broadway south of 212th.  Avoid.

13. GRANDPA'S BRICK OVEN / PIZZA HAVEN - Dueling pizza places on either side of Broadway near Isham Street.  Both are super for a NY slice and highly recommended.

14. V.S. BERRY - The biggest and best of Inwood's fro-yo spots, with all of the trimmings.  Located at Isham and Broadway.

15. INWOOD FARMER'S MARKET - One of the best greenmarkets in Manhattan, this runs every Saturday on Isham Street west of Broadway.  Stop by before the game for pastries, real apple cider and other direct-from-the-farm goodies.

16. GARDEN CAFE - An Inwood standard for a lovely weekend meal, especially on their back patio. On Broadway south of Isham St.

17. DARLING COFFEE - Is this Bushwick or Inwood?  Who cares, the coffee and pastries are great  at this independent coffee shop that will make you think you got off the A train in Brooklyn.  On Broadway between Isham and 207th.

18. YUMMY THAI - I can faithfully report that Inwood's only Thai outpost is reliably yummy, and an attractive place to sit.  On Broadway south of Isham St.

19. INWOOD LOCAL - One of the best craft beer bars in the area, with terrific bar food as well and a very big screen in the back for those weekend games. On Broadway north of 207th St.

20. DICHTER'S - The epicenter of all Inwood life , Manny runs a traditional pharmacy/general store complete with ice cream counter, bagels and sandwiches.  Terrific prices and friendly atmosphere.  Stop in and say hello.

21. PIPER'S KILT - Alas, the renowned Inwood buger pub near Broadway and 207th has just been sold and is closed for renovations.  A new (perhaps similar?) pub is expected to take its place around November.

22. DUNKIN / MCDONALDS / PAPAJOHNS - All located close to Broadway and 207th for quick eats.  Also here is PICK N EAT , a fresher take on fast food.

23. G's / CAPITOL - Looking for a diner or lunch counter that feels like it did when Lou Little was coaching the Lions?  Try the ancient Capitol diner on Broadway just south of 207th, or the astoundingly tasty G's luncheonette on 207th west of Broadway.  While you're at it, you can get your hair cut the proper way at Ray's Barbershop, next to G's and now in its third generation.  They don't make places like that anymore.

24. INWOOD BAR AND GRILL - Formerly District 12, it has a kind of sports bar-lounge split personality , and the service can be really slow.   But during a Saturday afternoon it will have by far the most big screen TVs for sports watching of any place in Inwood.  On Broadway north of 204th.

25. DYCKMAN STREET - aka Alcohol Alley, this huge concentration of bars and restaurants around Dyckman and Broadway looks enticing by day but turns into an unholy mess at night that makes Inwood the #1 neighborhood in the city for noise complaints.  I cannot recommend most of the places located here but two stand out if you go early enough to avoid the late-night mayhem.  THE PARK VIEW is the kind of beautiful and adorably tiny upscale restaurant only found in New York, while TRYON PUBLIC HOUSE on the east side of Broadway has quickly established itself as the go-to neighborhood pub for southern Inwood.

26. LA MARINA - This is a tough one to discuss.  On the one hand, the setting by the Hudson River is nothing short of spectacular and will make you feel like you are dining upstate.  On the other hand, the operators have grossly abused their parks concession license and tortured Inwood with massive illegal summer concerts that raise more havoc than the rest of Dyckman Street combined But in the fall the mood mellows and if you can afford the prices (and the valet parking) it may be worth a visit.  Go before they close for the season in October.

27. NEW LEAF - This one is more of a hike, being located in Fort Tryon Park  in an old park building that was restored by Bette Midler's nonprofit group in the 90s.  Best accessed from the 190th St "A" subway station, or by hiking up the steep trails from Dyckman Street, or driving to their small parking lot.  Under new management, it's one of the most beautiful spots in upper Manhattan to eat, especially when the fall colors are out.