Ivy League Football Report, 1996 November 4

We're just past the halfway point in the Ivy football season, and reversals of fortune have shaped the race. As you'll recall last year the Princeton Tigers and Columbia Lions both started out 3-0 before their showdown knocked Columbia's star quarterback out for the season and sent the Lions reeling to a 3-4 finish. The Tigers, meanwhile, took the Ancient Eight title by winning their first five league games and first eight overall before coasting to the finish with a 5-1-1 record. Their last-second tie over Dartmouth on the last day of the season kept them ahead of a pack containing 5-2 Penn and Cornell and 4-2-1 Dartmouth, who were undefeated in their last five league games, and finished with an overall 7-2-1 record.

This season Columbia and Dartmouth were the big stories, entering the weekend at 3-0 in the league and 6-0 overall, while Penn and Princeton had fallen by the wayside with 0-3 starts. Thus you can imagine the surprise when the Lions, ranked #24 in the national I-AA poll, fell behind 14-3 to the Tigers and lost by a 14-11 score. The Big Green meanwhile took sole possession of first place and pushed their overall mark to 7-0 with a 6-3 squeaker at Harvard, the Crimson missing a last-second 39-yard field goal which would have forced overtime. In other action, Brown rolled to a 35-6 lead and held on for a 35-21 victory over Cornell in a battle of 2-1 teams, and Pennsylvania got their first win of the season 20-3 over Yale.

So with three weeks of Ivy action yet to come, the Big Green sit atop the standings at 4-0, followed by Columbia and Brown (who meet in New York on the last day of the season) at 3-1. Cornell hold onto an outside shot at the co-championship at 2-2, but their chances seem slim, with losses to Dartmouth and Brown already behind them. Finally, a huge pack of also-rans stands at 1-3; with Dartmouth, Columbia and Brown slated to play one another in the final three weeks, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale are all mathematically eliminated.

Next weekend Columbia visits Dartmouth in a game that looked to have been a battle of unbeatens, but will still have huge title implications. Brown look to hold serve at Harvard while they await their showdowns with the other two leaders, Cornell travels to New Haven to face the Elis, and Princeton hosts Penn in the battle for South Jersey bragging rights.

Until next week, this is Joe Schlobotnik with the Ivy League football report.