Harvard on top, Columbia on the bottom: A roundup of a finished Ivy football season
The final Saturday of the Ivy League football season was marked by one of the greatest games in recent league history. It took place right here at Baker Field, where the Lions won 35-28 in double overtime.
From the champion Crimson’s triumphant season to the Lions’ wild 1-9 showing to everything in between, a lot happened for every Ivy team this year, so here are a few thoughts on each school after the jump, in order of the final standings.
1. Harvard (9-1, 7-0 Ivy)
- You may never see a more dominating performance in the Ivy League than the one that the Crimson put forth this year. Over the course of the season, Harvard easily scored the most points and allowed the least. The Crimson finished three games ahead of the second-place teams, which is virtually unheard of with just a seven-game Ivy schedule.
- It is even more impressive for a team to be as consistent in this league as Harvard was. After its week one loss, the Crimson dominated each of its final nine games by double-digit margins.
- The season ended with a statement—a thrashing of the Bulldogs at “The Game.” The only blemish was getting blown out in the battle of the videos.
2.Brown (7-3, 4-3)
- The Bears hoped to be in the Ivy title race, but much of their success was marred by two excruciating losses at the close of the season in which they coughed up fourth-quarter leads against Dartmouth and Columbia.
- Brown especially thrived on defense, including its weather-aided shutout of Penn, which ended the Quaker’s 18-game Ivy win streak.
- Brown’s recent string of winning seasons is impressive for a school that has never particularly been a football powerhouse.
3. Penn (5-5, 4-3)
- The defending champions extended their winning streak to 18 games before losing three out of their final four games.
- The Quakers may have had the biggest drop off of an Ivy team this season—falling to the middle of the pack in many offensive and defensive categories.
4. Yale (5-5, 4-3)
- Quarterback Patrick Witt probably should have just gone to his Rhodes Scholarship interview rather than getting embarrassed by the rival Crimson.
- Yale did what you would expect a mediocre team to do: they defeated the lower-echelon teams, while struggling against the top teams. In the three losses to Harvard, Brown, and Penn, the Bulldogs allowed over 38 points per game.
5. Dartmouth (5-5, 4-3)
- The Big Green followed a similar pattern to Yale, except its signature win came in Providence to end Brown’s hopes of an Ivy title.
- Running back Nick Schwieger was a machine—he led the league (by a wide margin) with 131 rushing yards a game! The senior left several marks on the Dartmouth record books. By comparison, Columbia’s entire team rushed for just slightly more than half of Schwieger’s total this season.
- However, Dartmouth’s true highlight of the season occurred off the playing field.
6. Cornell (5-5, 3-4)
- Offense! Jeff Matthews passed for 341.2 yards a game—over 100 yards more than the next highest passer (Witt). He established an Ivy record for passing yards in a season with 3,412 yards. In his final two games against Columbia and Penn, Matthews went 75-91 for 1,069 yards—breaking the single game record for passing yards with 548 against the Quakers—as his team scored a combined 110 points. Those numbers are almost laughable.
- In 9 of its 10 games, Cornell scored at least 24 points. Having gone 2-8 in 2010, this is a team that is definitely on the rise—especially since Matthews is only a sophomore.
7. Princeton (1-9, 1-6)
- I place the TIgers ahead of Columbia based on their sole victory being over the Lions. (Addtionally, 1-10 Fordham’s lone win this year was its Liberty Cup victory over Columbia. The Rams also fired their head coach, Tom Massella.)
- Princeton had the league’s worst offense, but it did show the ability to score in efforts such as putting up 39 points at Harvard.
8. Columbia (1-9, 1-6)
- The Lions may have had some ugly road losses this year, but they turned their four home games—which were widely regarded as their four most difficult games—into classics. There will always be memories from the homecoming thriller against streaking Penn, the Snow Bowl with Yale, the valiant effort against the Golden Pants, and this Saturday’s stunning victory over Brown.
- There were reasons that head coach Norries Wilson had to be let go—mainly the fact Columbia was outscored 117-20 in the third quarter, which reveals a lack of effective halftime adjustments.
- In the final half and two overtimes of the season’s final game, quarterback Sean Brackett played like the star he was last year and more. If he can maintain such a stellar level of play for an entire season, then there is indeed reason to look forward to the 2012 season, less than ten months away.
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