The voting media made a big mistake.
It believed that Penn’s losses on defense in the offseason would be too great to overcome; that without Jake Lewko, Chris Wynn and Joe Goniprow the Quakers would stand no chance of topping Harvard in the Ivy League standings. As a result, the Crimson got the No. 1 preseason bid.
“We take it as a little bit of a slight,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli said before the season, “but when you’re the defending champ in and you beat them at their place, you’ve got 15 starters back … and you’re still picked second — obviously there’s something wrong here.”
But halfway through the season and two games into the Ivy slate, Bagnoli’s lone voice trumps all the “sports information people” — his words — who gave the Quakers the cold shoulder. Harvard lost to Brown in week two and now must beat Dartmouth and Penn on the road to have a shot.
As predicted, Penn’s defense is notably weaker than last year — 17.4 points allowed per game this year compared to last season’s 9.5. But the Quakers will win the Ivy title this year because of their improved offense.
Any team in the League that can lose its top running back for the season and then come out and run the ball 57 times for 281 yards in a dominant win over Columbia is a serious contender. The depth of the running game, sophomore quarterback Billy Ragone included, has been unstoppable even without injured Lyle Marsh.
And though Penn still plays Harvard and Brown down the stretch — two of the better defenses against the rush — Bagnoli will have a homefield advantage for both games.
CALDER SILCOX is a junior from Washington, D.C., and is Sports Editor of The Daily Pennsylvanian. He can be reached at silcox@theDP.com.Comments powered by Disqus
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