After a 3-4 Ivy League record and a mid-table finish last season, the Quakers are looking to up their game this season. But where does the rest of their conference competition stand? Here's a look at the way the other seven teams in the Ancient Eight will line up this season, ordered by their ranking in the preseason poll.
Yale Bulldogs — 2018 Record: (5-5, 3-4 Ivy League)
Despite a middle-of-the-pack finish last season, the Bulldogs have been flagged as the team to beat this year in the 2019 preseason polls. Their 2018 season was plagued with injuries, with starting quarterback Kurt Rawlings and top running back Zane Dudek sitting on the sidelines for the majority of their games. These two impact players were instrumental in Yale’s 2017 Ivy League title and it’s safe to say that their return will energize Yale’s offensive line, featuring first team All-Ivy running back Alan Lamar and two of the conference’s top receivers, Reed Klubnik and JP Shohfi.
The two receivers both rank among the top 10 all-time for Bulldogs receivers and Klubnik is coming off a dynamite 2018 where he set the record for Yale’s single-season receiving yards with 1,143. Entering his eighth season, coach Tony Reno will be sure to capitalize on the dearth of offensive talent, as the offense did not graduate a single starter from 2018.
Dartmouth Big Green: (9-1, 6-1)
Yale's offense likely poses one of the only threats to Dartmouth, home to the League’s powerhouse defense. The Big Green are coming off consecutive seasons claiming second in the Ivy League, and have boasted a 38-12 overall record over the past five years. Unsurprisingly, preseason polls are predicting a third year in the runner-up position.
The team's only loss of the 2018 campaign was at the hands of League champion Princeton, and was supported by four first-team All-Ivy picks. Although three graduated, 2018 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Isiah Swann will return. Swann was at the top of the entire NCAA Division I at nine interceptions on the season last year within a unit that allowed only 12 points and 280.4 yards per game.
Princeton Tigers: (10-0, 7-0)
The defending Ivy League champions didn’t drop a single game last year, but were voted to come in third place in the 2019 preseason polls. Why? Perhaps it’s the graduation of two-time Bushnell Cup-winning quarterback John Lovett and the towering receiver pairing of Stephen Carlson and Jesper Horsted.
Last season, Carlson and Horsted put up a combined 18 touchdowns and more than 1,700 yards, but have left the Tigers behind for a career in the pros. That leaves only one big name on the Tigers' defensive line, senior Graham Adomitis, who will have big shoes to fill. Four hopefuls are battling it out for the quarterback position, the effectiveness of whom remains to be proven.
Harvard Crimson: (6-4, 4-3)
Harvard football has seen a disappointing end of the decade, as they have hovered around a .500 record after taking the League title in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015. The Crimson had a slow start to their 2018 season, losing fairly tight back-to-back games with Cornell, Princeton, and Dartmouth. They were able to turn it around for their back half, however, as they won their final three games by an average of 24.7 points.
The Cambridge school continues to be a recruiting powerhouse, adding some of the most promising recruits to their 2019 roster. Regardless, the League is chock full of recruited talent, and only time will tell if the team will be able to start out the season on a strong foot, or if they’ll wait until their last three games to start performing.
Columbia Lions: (6-4, 3-4)
Columbia’s 2017 campaign saw only two Ivy League losses, however, the Lions struggled with a 2018 roster that saw more than 25 injured players. Namely, their starting quarterback, top wide receiver, and top running back were all limited in their 2018 seasons due to injuries. All three will be returning to the field in 2019 along with all but one of last season's offensive linemen.
Cornell Big Red: (3-7, 2-5)
The Big Red continue to struggle to build momentum within the Ivy League. While they’ve seen limited upward mobility in the past five years, they have been competing on a higher level and last season came very close to a 4-3 Ivy record, losing by only six points to Yale and by three points to Columbia after a huge October upset win against Harvard.
Among the team's struggles was the offense, who only averaged 19.1 points per game last season. Cornell's coaching staff will likely look to replace its struggling starting quarterback in hopes of getting some fresh blood on the field to energize its lagging offense.
Brown Bears: (1-9, 0-7)
Coming off of their second consecutive season at the bottom of the Ivy League, the Bears have made some coaching changes, hiring James Perry to lead the team. As starting quarterback, Perry led the team to their 1999 Ivy League title, and is undoubtedly looking to return his program to its former glory. A newer coaching staff and changes in their offseason strength and conditioning program will potentially allow the Bears to rack up some league wins this season.
The Bears return standout junior quarterback Michael McGovern, who led the conference in passing with 220.2 yards per game, and linebacker Brendan Pyne, first in the League last year with 48 solo tackles. If Perry’s new approach takes advantage of his returning talent, the Bears might finally be able to rise from the bottom of the Ivy standings.
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