Lions are lucky number seven in this year’s preseason poll
This week has been a rollercoaster of rankings: First we’re crying because we’re awarded the title of most rigorous school, then we’re back up with 14th happiest, and now we’ve slid back down, ranking seventh in the Ancient Eight in The Ivy League’s preseason media poll for the upcoming 2012 football season.
Harvard’s predicted to repeat as league champions, and our favorite Lions are expected to have a season that could be described as lackluster at best. These polls are based on last year’s results, so decide for yourself if the Lions are going to rise to the top this year, or end up with another salute from the marching band.
1) Harvard (13 first place votes, 132 points)
The Crimson (9-1, 7-0 Ivy) dominated the league last season, and they seem to be almost everyone’s favorite to repeat. Harvard is the logical choice despite graduating standout quarterback Collier Winters. This year’s team will be led by versatile senior wide receiver Kyle Juszczyk, who dominated the Lions defense in the Crimson’s 35-21 victory over the Light Blue. The Crimson had both the best offense and defense in the league in 2011.
2) Penn (2, 111)
Penn (5-5, 4-3 Ivy) was a disappointment last season after a strong 2010. Senior quarterback Billy Ragone will return to lead the Quakers on offense, and senior Brandon Copeland will anchor the defensive line. Ragone had a subpar season in 2011, throwing for just 1860 yards with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, and will try to rebound in 2012 to lead Penn to a title. Columbia gave Penn a run for its money last season, but couldn’t finish the job with a last second attempt.
3) Cornell (2, 100)
The Big Red (5-5, 3-4 Ivy) surprised some last season, but with a number of key offensive threats returning for 2012, Cornell could make a run for the title. The team ranked second in the league in offense last year, but their defense was in the bottom three. Junior quarterback Jeff Mathews will lead the Big Red offense, and he will be joined by a veteran receiving corps of seniors Shane Savage, Luke Tasker, and Kurt Ondash—three of the league’s top four receivers last season. Mathews, the 2011 Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, averaged 341 passing yards per game in 2011, over 100 more than the next best passer. The quarterback torched the Light Blue last season with 521 yards on 40-for-46 passing en route to a 62-41 victory.
4) Brown (84)
The Brown Bears (7-3, 4-3 Ivy) rode their defense—the league’s second best—to a 4-3 Ivy record last season, and they’ll look to their defense once again as they try to improve. Senior defensive back AJ Cruz will to lead that defensive group. Cruz is a very versatile player, who uses his speed to cover receivers and return kicks. The Bears lost to Columbia in a double overtime thriller in the final game of last season.
5) Yale (66)
Yale (5-5, 4-3 Ivy) graduated star quarterback Patrick Witt and leading rusher Alex Thomas, and hope to find success with an offense led by senior tailback Mordecai Cargill. Senior linebacker Will McHale will lead the defense, which ranked in the lower half of the league last season. Cargill’s 242 yards helped the Bulldogs beat Columbia, 16-13, in a snowy dogfight last year.
6) Dartmouth (52)
Dartmouth (5-5, 4-3 Ivy) will have to find a way to run their offense without superstar running back Nick Schwieger, who averaged 130 rushing yards per game last season. The Big Green’s defense was third-best in the league last season, and junior linebacker Bronson Green will try to lead the team’s defense in 2012. The Big Green—led by Schwieger’s 163 rushing yards and three touchdowns—shut out the Lions, 37-0, last season.
7) Columbia (36)
The Light Blue (1-9, 1-6 Ivy) had a rocky 2011 campaign, capped off by the dismissal of former head coach Norries Wilson. Senior quarterback Sean Brackett will lead a Lion offense which ranked seventh in the league last season. Brackett averaged over 200 yards passing last season, but was inefficient, completing less than half of his passes in 2011. The Lions will retain a number of defensive players, but their secondary will have to cope with the loss of AJ Maddox and Ross Morand, among others. The team lost its first nine games of the season, with its only victory coming in the season finale at home against Brown in double overtime.
8) Princeton (31)
Princeton (1-9, 1-6 Ivy) finished the season tied for last place in the league. 2011 Ivy League Rookie of the Year running back Chuck Dibilio posted a 1,000 yard season in his first year in the league. He will look to improve a Tigers’ offense which was worst in the league last season. The team’s defense was second-worst in the league last year, ahead of only Columbia. Princeton’s lone victory came against the Lions, where the Tigers racked up five sacks on Brackett.
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