If you want to know why Ivy League football teams nowadays are putting up more points than their basketball counterparts, look no further than Brown. Tomorrow at Franklin Field at 12:30 p.m., Penn (3-3, 2-1 Ivy League) welcomes the Bears (4-2, 1-2) -- the godfathers of the new pass-happy, wide-open Ancient Eight. Even though Brown's potent offense has graduated the Ivy League's all-time touchdown passer, James Perry, and his favorite target, current New England Patriots wideout Sean Morey, the Bears are still setting the benchmark for offensive excellence -- and not just in the Ivy League. With Perry understudy Eric Webber taking the reins, the Bears have climbed to the top of Division I-AA, leading the nation in total offense by almost 30 yards per game. Brown puts up a whopping 513.8 yards per game on average. And just last week, the Bears dropped an Ivy League record 690 yards on Cornell in a 56-40 trouncing of the Big Red. Unlike years past, Brown coach Phil Estes has managed to coax a running game this season, behind junior tailback Michael Malan. Malan was honored as the Division I-AA Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts against Cornell. He ran for 234 yards and three touchdowns, caught a touchdown and threw for another on a halfback option. But make no mistake, Brown's bread and butter remains its prolific passing attack. Senior wideout Stephen Campbell leads the nation in receptions per game and receiving yards per game. Last week, Campbell broke Morey's Ivy League career receptions record of 251 catches. His career total now stands at 253, and he is on pace to come within 10 receptions of Jerry Rice's Division I-AA mark of 301. Yet Penn's offense has been quick to follow in the footsteps of the Bears airshow. The Quakers are undefeated at Franklin Field this season, averaging 45.3 points per game at home en route to a 3-0 record. And junior quarterback Gavin Hoffman could post his fifth 300-yard-plus passing effort this season against a Bears defense that is giving up 305 yards in the air per game. In fact, despite the 4-2 mark, the Brown defense is giving up almost 37 points per contest. But the Quakers may have to go at it once more without the services of last year's league leading rusher Kris Ryan, who is still recovering from a knee injury he sustained two weeks ago against Columbia. "We're cautiously optimistic," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "The trainers were pleasantly surprised. Psychologically, it would good if we could have him for 10-15 carries." With or without Ryan, the key for the Quakers will be containing the explosive Bears offense. "The things you can't let happen are big plays," Bagnoli said. "Obviously, anytime you give up big plays it makes it very difficult to contain anybody." Limiting the big play capabilities of Webber and his cadre of talented receivers is a tall order for a Penn defense that has been victimized by Brown the last two seasons, especially with the absence of senior lineman Brian Person, who is out for the year with a broken ankle. In 1999, Perry passed for 440 yards and five touchdowns as Brown outshot the Quakers 44-37 on their way to a share of the Ivy League title. Two years ago, the Red and Blue lost a back-and-forth Ancient Eight epic, 58-51. The teams traded scores in the fourth quarter, Penn on the ground behind now-Indianapolis Colts fullback Jim Finn and Brown through the air and the arm of Perry. The combined 109 points -- 58 of which came in the final quarter --ÿremain an Ivy League record. Tomorrow's game has major implications on the race for the Ivy crown. Five teams -- Penn, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton and Yale -- all sit atop the standings with a 2-1 conference record. Even if Brown should emerge the victor and catch up to the league leaders, the Bears are ineligible to win the Ivy League this year because of recruiting violations.Comments powered by Disqus
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