By Matt Noonan
The Harvard University football team was projected to capture the Ivy League crown for the second straight season, as the Ancient Eight preseason media poll was unveiled this morning.
Harvard garnered 11 of 17 first-place votes and finished with 130 points in the poll.
The Crimson was last picked to finish first in 2012 – Harvard wrapped their season with an 8-2 overall mark, 5-2 ledger in conference play, and the program’s sixth consecutive victory against Yale University.
Harvard won every game last season, concluding its campaign with a perfect 10-0 record, including an exciting 31-24 victory over rival Yale University in the 131st playing of The Game.
“We had a great year last year, but that’s ancient history,” Harvard head coach Tim Murphy said this afternoon on the Ivy League Football Media Day conference call. “Once again we have a chance to be a very solid football team and at the same time realize we still have a huge target on our back.
“If you look at last season – obviously you have to do a lot of things right to have the season we had, but I think our identity was really on the defense. We had a great defensive football team, one of the best we’ve had in our 20-plus years here.”
Behind Harvard is Dartmouth College, picked to finish second. The Big Green collected four first-place votes and tallied 116 points in the poll. The Bulldogs of Yale were picked to finish third and received one first-place vote.
“What we really try to do is put our best foot forward each weekend and certainly it’s a challenge. (There’s) no off-week, (so) you better have your A-game and we have a pretty (competitive) schedule (this season),” Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens said on the conference call.
“We’re aware of the challenges throughout the course of the league and certainly have great respect, and certainly look forward to opportunities to demonstrate what we have here at Dartmouth when we have the opportunity to do so.”
Dartmouth finished 5-1 in conference play last season, recording its best conference mark since the 1997 campaign. The Big Green’s lone setback occurred against Harvard as the Crimson topped Dartmouth, 23-12.
Princeton University was selected to finish fourth, while Brown University rounded out the top-five with a projected fifth-place finish.
University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and Cornell University were picked to finish sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
Games commence on Saturday, September 19 with eight non-conference contests. League play begins the weekend of Friday, October 2 when Columbia travels to Princeton for a 7:00 p.m. kick-off.
“I think it is an incredibly competitive league,” Cornell University head coach David Archer said on the conference call. “It is really an anybody’s league. Up and down the schedule – I call them bowl games (because) each game in the Ivy League is like a bowl game because (every contest impacts) the standings so much you have to bring your A-game every Saturday.”