Nick Hartigan is starting to turn heads across the country. One week after torching Penn's run defense -- at the time ranked the best in Division I -- for 167 yards, the Brown running back ran wild for 192 yards and a career-high four touchdowns against Yale on Saturday to lead Brown to a 38-21 win at the Yale Bowl.
For his performance -- which moved Hartigan into fourth place all-time in the Ivy League in career rushing yards, with 4,070 -- he was named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week. But more impressively, Brown alum and ESPN personality Chris Berman lauded Hartigan during the end of Sportscenter's Top 10 Plays of the Week segment.
After this weekend's game against Yale, Hartigan leads I-AA in rushing with 1,305 yards through eight games. He is averaging a staggering 5.3 yards per carry and 163.1 yards per game.
And with Brown sitting comfortably atop the Ivy League standings with Princeton, Hartigan appears poised to lead his team to a league title and is considered the frontrunner for the Ivy League Player of the Year award.
And then there were two
Hartigan's Bears entered last weekend knotted up at the top of the league with Yale, Princeton and Penn. After last weekend's games pitting those four teams against each other, only two retain their spots at the top, each with one loss.
Yale's inability to stop Hartigan and the Brown rushing attack drastically reduced the Elis' chances of securing their first Ivy League title since 1999. At Franklin Field, Princeton snapped its nine-game losing streak to Penn in a big way with a commanding 30-13 victory.
The result of the two games is a much clearer picture of the Ivy title race. Brown and Princeton lead the league with 4-1 conference records and appear to be the only legitimate contenders remaining.
Brown should encounter only marginal resistance in its final two games against Ivy League cellar dwellers Dartmouth and Columbia.
Princeton, meanwhile, has games remaining against Yale and Dartmouth. If Princeton wins in New Haven this Saturday, it will mark the first season since 1992 that the Tigers managed to beat Harvard, Penn, and Yale in the same year. Princeton and Dartmouth shared the Ivy title that season.
If both teams win out, they would share the Ivy League title. Brown and Yale won the last split title in 1999. However, if one were to sweep its last two games and the other lose at least one, that team would win the conference title outright with a 6-1 league mark.
Down and out?
After losing consecutive games for the first time since 1999, Penn finds itself in an unfamiliar position. With a 3-2 Ivy record, the Quakers are tied for third place with Harvard and Yale. Even more disheartening for Penn, the last time any team won a share of the Ivy League title with two losses was in 1982.
However, as bleak as the situation may seem, the Quakers still have a shot, albeit a very slim one, at winning the league. For that to happen, however, Penn would have to win its final two games -- against respectable Harvard and Cornell squads -- and hope for both Brown and Princeton to lose one of their remaining games.
With Brown playing at a very high level -- and riding a six game winning streak -- and Princeton playing its best since coach Roger Hughes took over the reins, Penn might want to start focusing on third place.
Harvard and Yale are also still mathematically alive, but they need help from both Princeton and Brown, and cannot afford another loss.
Penn and Harvard play this week, and Harvard and Yale play next week.
In theory, Cornell is still alive as well, but the Big Red would need to win out, have Harvard beat Yale and lose to Penn, and have Brown and Princeton lose their last two games.
If all that happened, there would be a six-way tie for first place at 4-3, but it is a bit of a stretch. In fact, no team has ever won even a share of the title with three losses.
Feels like the first time
As the clock ran out on the Tiger's 30-13 upset over Penn on Saturday, Princeton head coach Roger Hughes' face said it all: this was no ordinary win.
Not only did Saturday's dominant performance at Franklin Field keep the Tigers atop the Ivy League standings with only two weeks remaining, but it also marked the first time in six tries that Hughes managed to beat Penn.
"We've been close down here, before," Hughes said.
"Coach Bagnoli has his program at a very good level and to be the man you have to beat the man. That's the type of program we're trying to become."
Hughes' team can take the final step toward becoming a championship program by winning its final two games. If they do, it will be Hughes' first Ivy League title as a head coach. Hughes won titles in 1992 and 1996 at Dartmouth as an offensive coordinator.Comments powered by Disqus
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