Penn football is in trouble after falling to 0-2 in the Ivy League after its loss to Columbia. But, in the grand scheme of the Ivy title hunt, are the Quakers down for the count, or are their backs simply against the wall?
Carter Thompson, Associate Sports Editor
It would be easier to argue for Penn’s chances for the Ivy League title if they had already gotten through the toughest part of their schedule. But this team has yet to play Yale, Harvard and Princeton. There’s no question there have been plenty of upsets throughout the Ancient Eight this year — the aforementioned teams have proven to be beatable.
But the Red and Blue do not control their own destiny anymore, and that is a problem.
They could play their best five games of the season and win each game by 50, but there's a good chance it would not even matter. Granted, one of the undefeated teams in Dartmouth and Columbia will have a loss by the end of the week (Dartmouth hosts Columbia on Saturday), but both of those teams still need to lose twice this season for the Quakers to have a chance.
If Penn hosted Brown this weekend instead of Yale, it could sort out what it needs to sort out and get back on track in hopes of rallying over the final four games. Unfortunately it doesn’t have that luxury. It has to beat a Yale team whose one loss this year was by one point to first-place Dartmouth.
The Red and Blue can certainly beat Yale; they have the playmakers on both sides of the ball and they’ve done it the last two years. But can it beat Yale right now with how the Bulldogs are playing? The Red and Blue need to, otherwise, they’re done.
Brevin Fleischer, Sports Editor
Okay. Technically, it’s possible.
I get that Penn is 0-2. I get that the last time a two-loss team won the Ivy League championship was 1982. I get that Columbia and Dartmouth appeared to be easy wins from a preseason outlook. I get that both losses were heartbreaking.
I get all that. I really do.
But hope still remains.
The Quakers have a whole lot of season in front of them. If they were to run the table, beating Yale, Brown, Princeton, Harvard, and Cornell, they’d finish the season with a 5-2 conference record. More importantly, each of those teams has already lost at least once this season, meaning that an additional loss to Penn would prevent any of the aforementioned squads from attaining the 6-1 record required to top the Quakers come season's end.
Still, Penn does not control its own destiny at this point. Dartmouth and Columbia have shocked the Ivy League with their respective 2-0 Ivy records, so, in order for Penn to claim a share of a third consecutive Ivy title, those two teams need to lose twice. Seeing that the Red and Blue have already lost to both teams, that part of the equation is beyond the Quakers' control. The other Ivy squads will have to step up.
Now, although the Lions and Big Green each own 2-0 records, a closer look at their respective statistics reveals some cause for optimism from a Penn perspective. Neither team has been as dominant as their records would indicate. Columbia has won its two games by a combined seven points, while Dartmouth has only outscored its two Ivy foes by four points total.
Those are pretty slim margins. A missed extra point here, a fumble there, and the Ivy League standings would look completely different. It’d be difficult for the two teams to walk that tightrope for an entire seven game season. At some point, close wins become closes losses. For Penn’s sake, that “point” better come pretty soon.
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