Ivy League Football Notebook: Can Yale Top Harvard In ‘The Game?’

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The Bulldogs of Yale will look to cap their season with a win over Harvard in ‘The Game.’ (PHOTO CREDIT: Yale Athletics | Jack Warhola mage)

By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

Harvard’s shot at a share of the Ivy League title came to a screeching halt last Saturday in a less-than-inspiring 23-6 loss to the Penn Quakers 5-4 (3-3) at Harvard Stadium.

The Crimson 5-4 (4-3) are reduced to the role of spoiler as they head to New Haven on Saturday to face Yale in THE GAME.

The Crimson were never in position to challenge Penn as the Quaker’s Tre Solomon took the first possession of the game all the to the house on a 77-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 and the Quakers never looked back.

The Harvard offense was contained all day by a veteran Penn defensive unit that limited the Crimson to a pair of field goals (24 and 32-yards) by Jake McIntyre.

Yale, with a 35-31 win last week over the Princeton Tigers, has clinched at least a share of the Ivy League title and can claim sole possession of the 2017 title with a win over Harvard on Saturday at the Yale Bowl, the Bulldogs first since 2006.

If the Bulldogs lose to the Crimson, Columbia and Dartmouth can also lay claim to a share of the title.

Yale sophomore quarterback Kurt Rawlings sparked the Bulldogs win over Princeton as he led the Bulldogs back from a 24-7 second quarter deficit. Rawlings was 26-for-34 for 304 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bulldogs freshman phenom running back Zane Dudek rushed 35 times for 180 yards and three touchdowns in the  come-from-behind win over Princeton. Eleven of his runs were for first downs, and he also caught six passes and finished with 212 all-purpose yards.

The Crimson defense will face a mountain of a challenge in defending Rawlings, who is having an MVP-type season and Dudek, who is the front-runner for National Rookie of the Year honors.

Harvard has failed to play consistent football but they have been a very dangerous team coming off a loss in the previous week.

Yale leads the series 66-59-6. The Bulldogs edged the Crimson 21-14 at Harvard Stadium last year.

The Game, in front of a sellout crowd at the Yale Bowl, has a 12:30 p.m. kickoff and it will broadcast live by CNBS Sports. Paul Burmeister and Ross Tucker have the call.

Bob’s Prediction: The Crimson give Yale all they can handle in THE GAME, but it’s the year of the Bulldogs! PREDICTION: Yale 24, Harvard 17

Around the Ancient Eight: Dartmouth 7-2 (4-2) will look to keep their title hopes alive when they host Princeton 5-4 (2-4), while Columbia 7-2 (4-2) plays host to Brown 2-7 (0-6).

A Yale win will be their first title since 2006, and their first outright title since 1980. Columbia has only one Ivy League title, in 1961, and Dartmouth is looking for its League-leading 19th title and first since 2015.

Yale quarterback Rawlings performance against Princeton earned his second Ivy Offensive Player of the Week award of the season (Sept. 18) and fourth career Ivy League weekly honor.

Yale’s Zane Dudek earned his fifth Ivy Rookie of the Week honor of the season, just the third Ivy to accomplish the feat, joining Harvard’s Eion Hu (six, 1994) and Princeton’s Chuck Dibilio (six, 2011).

With its recent win over Columbia, Yale claimed its 900th all-time victory. The Bulldogs are the third team in Division I history to accomplish the feat, joining Michigan and Notre Dame.

Penn superb senior wide receiver Justin Watson continues to climb the Ivy League record books. Watson is in second-place all-time with 3,585 receiving yards. He also ranks third in receptions (273) and fourth in receiving touchdowns (32).

Follow Bob for all the Yale football game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob

(Compiled from various Ivy League media outlets)

Ivy League Football Notebook: Harvard Keeps Title Hopes Alive, Set To Face Columbia

496202By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

Harvard kept their 2017 Ivy League title hopes alive with a come-from-behind 25-22 win over Dartmouth at Harvard Stadium last Saturday.

The Crimson’s win set up an important showdown  in New York on Saturday against Coach Al Bagnoli’s Columbia Lions 6-1 (3-1), who fell from the ranks of the unbeaten at the hands of Yale, 23-6.

Yale, Columbia and Cornell rest at the top of the Ivy standings with 3-1 records while the Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth remain in hot pursuit with two losses.

The Crimson rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat the Big Green 5-2 (2-2) behind the play of freshman quarterback Jake Smith. Smith was 18-for-35 for 125 yards and three touchdowns. Smith also rushed for 64 yards.

Smith’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Shampklin with 7:21 left in regulation sealed the win.

Meanwhile Bagnoli’s surprising Lions suffered their first loss of the season, courtesy of a dominating performance by a Yale defense.

Yale’s defense was the story as they recorded four sacks and two interceptions in limiting the Lions to just 206 yards of total offense and just one touchdown (1-yard run by quarterback Anders Hill).

Saturday’s contest will be the 76th meeting between the Crimson and Lions. Harvard holds a 60-14-1 lead in the series. The Crimson has won the last 13 games between the two schools. The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Bob’s Prediction: The Crimson will make it 14 in a row over the Lions and stay alive in the title chase. All signs point to THE GAME! PREDICTION: Harvard, 21, Columbia 17

Next week: Penn invades Harvard Stadium, Saturday, November 11 for a 12 p.m. kickoff (NESN).

Around the Ancient Eight: It’s crunch time in the Ivy League this weekend with three huge contests, in addition to the Harvard/Columbia clash. Yale 6-1 (3-1) hosts Brown 2-5 (0-4), Princeton 5-2 (2-2) is at Penn 3-4 (1-3) while Dartmouth 5-2 (2-2) travels to Ithaca to face Cornell 3-4 (3-1). There are six teams in the hunt for the title with just three weeks remaining in the schedule.

Harvard’s all-purpose back, Justice Shelton-Mosley, leads the nation in punt returns for touchdowns (two) and punt return average (23.1).

Yale’s freshman running back, Zane Dudek, is having quite an inaugural season for the Bulldogs. Last week in the Bulldogs huge 23-6 win over previously unbeaten Columbia Dudek rushed a season-best 173-yards. The effort earned the first-year phenom National Rookie of the Week as well as offensive player and co-rookie of the week in the Ivy League.

Dudek, who ranks second among all Football Championship Subdivision ball carriers (8.4 yards per attempt), was placed on the FCS Jerry Rice Award Watch List. He has been Ivy Rookie of the Week three times while having four games where he rushed for over 100 yards.

Yale’s senior linebacker standout Matthew Oplinger leads the FCS averaging better than one per game and has 9.5 on the year.

Dartmouth’s upcoming matchup with Brown on Friday, November 10, will be held in historic Fenway Park.

Looking way ahead to a game that is looking more and more like it will determine the Ivy League football champion, Yale will host Harvard in THE GAME on Nov. 18.

Follow Bob for all the Yale football game highlights, features and more: @WhitneyBob

(Compiled from various Ivy League media outlets)

Ivy League Football Notebook: It’s Crunch Time For Harvard, Princeton

496202By 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).

Follow Bob on Twitter @WhitneyBob; like him on Facebook and Instagram.

Ivy League Football Notebook: Harvard Set To Tangle With Big Red In Ithaca

Cornell/Harvard Logo By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

The Harvard Crimson continued their winning ways last Saturday with a lopsided 41-2 road win over the Georgetown Hoyas.

The Crimson put on a dominating offensive performance, rushing for 177 yards and passing for 280 while limiting the Hoyas to 46 on the ground and 155 in the air.

Harvard’s Justice Shelton-Mosley had a special afternoon against the Hoyas as he amassed 169 total yards in the win at RFK Stadium. Shelton-Mosley’s 91-yard punt return for a touchdown was the longest in Harvard history and (tied Columbia’s Travis Chmelka) as the third-longest in Ivy League history.

Jake Smith got the starting nod at quarterback for the second consecutive week and completed 11-of-21 passes for 139 yards in three quarters of work. Joe Viviano saw limited action in Coach Tim Murphy’s platoon system connecting on 5-of-10 for 66 yards.

The Crimson 2-1 (1-0) will return to Ivy League action on Saturday when they face a potential trap game against Cornell 0-3 (0-1) in Ithaca, NY (1:30 p.m.).

Harvard’s secondary had a strong outing against Georgetown and they will be tested again this week against Cornell.

The Big Red has an outstanding quarterback in junior Dalton Banks who will pose a challenge for the Harvard secondary. Banks passed for 239 yards (22-of-43) in a 21-7 loss to Colgate last week.

However, Banks had four picks and was sacked nine times. Harvard leads the all-time series, 47-32-2, and has won 14 of the last 16 meetings.

The Crimson won last year’s meeting, 29-13, at Harvard Stadium.

Bob’s Prediction: Murphy’s recipe for platooning Smith and Viviano at quarterback is looking better each week. The Big Red will throw an early scare at the Crimson but Harvard should pick up Ivy win No. 2. PREDICTION: Harvard 38, Cornell 17

Next week: Harvard will return home to host Lafayette on Saturday, Oct. 14. The game will be the Crimson’s final non-conference clash of the season.

Around the Ancient Eight: The Ivy League is off to its best non-conference start since 1970 with a 13-3 record in the first three weeks of the 2017 season. Columbia pulled off the upset of the early season when they defeated preseason title favorite Princeton, 28-24. It was the Lions’ first win over the Tigers since 2010 and their first 3-0 (1-0) start since 1996.

Columbia wide receiver Ron Smith caught 10 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, to lead the Lions against the Tigers.

Dartmouth 3-0 (1-0 Ivy) remained unbeaten, as well as winning their Ivy opener, when the Big Green edged Penn 2-1 (0-1) as time expired, 16-13.

Yale 3-0 (1-0) and Dartmouth 3-0 (1-0) will put their unbeaten records on the line when they square off in Hanover, NH on Saturday (1:30 p.m. ESPN3).

(Report compiled from various Ivy League media sources).

Follow Bob on Twitter @WhitneyBob; like him on Facebook and Instagram.

Ivy League Football Notebook: Harvard Stopped By The Rams In Opening Week

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Brown University quarterback Nicholas Duncan and the Bears scored an opening-day win a week ago over Bryant University. (PHOTO CREDIT: Brown University Athletics)

By Bob Whitney (@WhitneyBob) 

The Ivy League kicked-off its 62nd season with their best season-opening record (6-2) since 2013 last Saturday.

Princeton, the league’s co-favorite, led the way with a 27-17 road win over San Diego.

However, there was one big surprise, as league co-favorite Harvard suffered an upset of sorts at the hands of the Rhode Island Rams, 17-10.

URI quarterback Tyler Harris threw for 235 yards and a touchdown as Rhode Island (1-2) won its first game of the 2017 season (fourth in last three seasons) and first victory over Harvard in five tries.

Cornell was the other Ivy to come up short suffering a 41-14 drubbing at the hands of the Delaware Blue Hens.

This week, the Crimson (0-1, 0-0 Ivy) will face a major emotional challenge as it prepares to face Brown (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) on Saturday at Harvard Stadium. It will be the Ivy League opener for both squads with kick-off set for 12 p.m. (Fans can watch the game on the Ivy League Network (IL) or NESN-Plus).

Brown will enter the contest on a positive note after holding on to defeat Bryant, 28-23, last weekend in Providence.

Bryant dominated play, accumulating nearly 200 yards more total offense than the Bears (and two-to-one time of possession), but fell victim to two costly turnovers.Junior quarterback Nicholas Duncan ran for two touchdowns and threw for 152 yards (14-of-27) and a score to pace the Bears.

Brown’s Scott Boylan returned the opening kick-off 95 yards for a touchdown. Defensively, the Bears received a number of outstanding efforts most noteworthy was senior defensive end Richard Jarvis who had four sacks and eight tackles, which earned him Ivy Defensive Player of the Week honors.

For Harvard to be successful against Brown they will need to finish in the red zone. Quarterback Joe Viviano (17-of-32, 192 yards) had a decent outing against the Rams, but failed to connect for a touchdown.

The Crimson ground game received a solid effort last week from Charlie Booker III (139 yards) and the defense turned in a decent effort, holding the Rams scoreless in the second half.

Harvard’s Tim Murphy, with plenty of talent and experience on both sides of the ball, will be looking for his squad to be more consistent in Week 2.

Bob’s Harvard Prediction: Can Harvard overcome the emotional issues surrounding the serious injury to their team mate? Young men are resilient, particularly football players, but it should be an emotional win. PREDICTION: Harvard 17, Brown 16. 

Next week: Harvard will travel to Georgetown on Sept. 30 (2 p.m.). The game will be played at historic RFK Stadium.

Around the Ancient Eight: The Yale Bulldogs served notice that they are a team to contend with when they clobbered Lehigh 56-28. Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings was named Ivy Offensive Player of the Week when he threw for 308 yards (20-of-26) and four touchdowns. Rawlings certainly is a front-runner for Ivy League MVP … Yale will host Cornell in Week 2. The Big Red committed five first half turnovers in their loss to Delaware … When Harvard and Brown meet tomorrow it will be the 117th meeting between the two schools … Boylan’s 95-yard kickoff return against Bryant last week was the eighth-longest kickoff return in Brown football history.

(Report compiled from various Ivy League media sources).

Follow Bob on Twitter @WhitneyBob; like him on Facebook and Instagram.