One game. One winner. One Ivy League champion. It's that simple. Tomorrow, the Penn football team will face Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., at 1 p.m. with the chance to win its second Ivy League championship in three seasons. "You can't script it much better than this," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said of the end-of-season showdown. Penn and Cornell currently share the lead for first place in the Ancient Eight with 5-1 records. Thanks to the introduction of overtime in college football several years ago, someone will definitely be crowned the outright champion tomorrow afternoon at Cornell's Schoellkopf Field. Penn's road to this Ivy League title game started off smoothly but has recently been peppered with come-from-behind wins. The Quakers (6-3 overall, 5-1 Ivy League) cruised to an early 2-0 Ivy League record with 48-14 and 43-25 victories over Dartmouth and Columbia, respectively. But since Yale dealt Penn its only conference loss, 27-24, on October 21, the Quakers have found magical ways of winning games on the gridiron. The following week, the Red and Blue trailed Brown by 18 points with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Penn junior quarterback Gavin Hoffman threw for two touchdowns and ran for another to lead the Quakers to a dramatic home victory. Seven days later, Penn trailed Princeton 24-6 before Hoffman completed a 42-yard pass to Doug O'Neill on the last play of the first half. Penn ended the game scoring 34 unanswered points, en route to a 40-24 victory over its arch-rival. The Quakers' magical ride continued last weekend when they hosted Harvard on Homecoming. Penn erased a nine-point deficit with under seven minutes left in the game and then watched Harvard placekicker Robbie Wright miss a potentially game-winning 33-yard field goal to keep Penn's title hopes alive. Although Cornell will have the home field advantage tomorrow, the weather forecast in Ithaca, N.Y., could prove favorable for the Quakers. A snow storm is headed for Ithaca this weekend, but it may not arrive until after tomorrow's Ivy League showdown. However, if there is inclement weather, that would give the slight advantage to Penn -- with big back Kris Ryan -- if it gives an advantage to anyone at all. "They have to throw the ball as much as we have to throw the ball," Bagnoli said. "It's not like we're playing against a team that's a power running attack, where they have an advantage in the wind and the cold." Thanks to the talent of Hoffman and Cornell quarterback Ricky Rahne, both teams feature a pass-happy offense. However, the Quakers have had more success running the football this year, averaging 40.1 more rushing yards per game than the Big Red. The Quakers' rushing attack is led by Ryan, who gains 4.4 yards per carry. Moreover, Cornell's rushing defense is the worst in the Ivy League, allowing 234.0 yards per contest. By way of comparison, Penn's rushing defense is third best in the Ancient Eight, yielding only 124.6 yards per contest. That's not to say that Penn cannot pass the ball in cold weather. In fact, Penn's signal caller is a native of frosty Minnesota. "[Hoffman's] seen a little bit of weather, some wind, some snow," Bagnoli said. "All of our receivers are East Coast kids. I don't think it is going to be a big deal." Rain, sleet, snow or shine, a Penn win tomorrow will translate into the Quakers' eighth outright Ivy League Championship and their second in three seasons.Comments powered by Disqus
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