By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob)
It is crunch time in the Ivy League and over the next month teams will battle for a chance to be crowned 2017 Ivy football champions.
Harvard and Princeton, preseason picks to finish at the top of the Ivy heap, will kick off the weekend with a clash under the lights this evening at Harvard Stadium.
Both squads have one loss in the league and it is one of those games that can be filed as “must have.”
Harvard 3-2 (1-1 Ivy) prepped for the Tigers with a solid 38-10 non-league victory over Lafayette which featured a breakout effort by Crimson running back Charles Booker III (159 yards, 1 TD).
Harvard’s All-Ivy performer Justice Shelton-Moseley returned a punt 85 yards to open the scoring. Shelton-Moseley’s performance earned him Ivy Special Teams Player of the Week honors for the second time this season.
The Crimson defense turned in a stellar effort, limiting the Leopards to just 12 rushing yards.
Freshman quarterback Jake Smith looked sharp and is improving with each snap.
The Harvard offense, defense and special teams look ready to face Princeton 4-1 (1-1) who tuned-up for the big showdown with a 53-0 victory at Brown.
Tiger running back Charlie Volker scored 4 touchdowns, including a 96-yard run which set a new school record.
The Tigers offense netted 538 total yards in the one-sided contest while the defense limited Brown to 170.
Princeton quarterback Chad Kanoff was very efficient as he completed 21-of-27 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns.
On the other side, the Tigers are firing on all eight cylinders which should make for an exciting evening of football.
The game will be nationally-televised on the NBC Sports Network starting at 7:30 p.m.
Bob’s Prediction: Both teams are ready with the home team getting the edge in this one – it should be an Ivy League Classic! Harvard 24, Princeton 23
Next week: Dartmouth will invade Harvard Stadium on Oct. 28 (12 p.m. NESN).
Around the Ancient Eight: The other big game this weekend pits a battle of the unbeaten when Dartmouth 5-0 (2-0) hosts Coach Al Bagnoli’s surprising Columbia Lions 5-0 (2-0) on Saturday (Eleven Sports, ILN).
Bagnoli’s Lions were picked to finish seventh in the preseason poll. Columbia will look to continue their best start since 1996.
The Ivy League registered its best non-conference record since 1994, finishing 18-6 in out-of-conference play in 2017.
Princeton’s Volker 96-yard touchdown run from scrimmage broke a 65-year record for the longest rushing score in Tiger history; the previous record was a 93-yard touchdown by Homer Smith, set against Yale on Nov. 15, 1952.
Friday night’s game in Cambridge will be the first Ivy League road night contest ever for Princeton.
Dartmouth’s upcoming matchup with Brown on Friday, Nov. 10, will be held in historic Fenway Park.
The Ivy League published results of their experimental kickoff rule, which has produced tangible results, including a significant drop in injuries and concussions throughout the 2016 season. After averaging six concussions per year during the Ivy League conference slate the previous three seasons, athletes suffered zero concussions on kickoff plays in 2016.
(Report compiled from various Ivy League media sources).
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