Though the Ivy League canceled fall sports this year, there's a chance the football season will continue in the spring if health experts give the green light. Here's how the eight teams stack up in the off-season.
1. Princeton (8-2, 5-2 Ivy, 3rd in 2019)
You can't find a more consistent Ivy League football team than Princeton over the past few years. Since Bob Surace took over in 2010, the Tigers have posted only two losing seasons — both in Surace's first two years as coach. Surace has done a great job attracting talent like John Lovett, Kevin Davidson, and Jesper Horsted, and the team even stole four-star quarterback Brevin White from Alabama.
The Tigers had a successful 8-2 record last season but lost two lopsided games to Dartmouth and Yale, which finished ahead of Princeton in the standings. Quarterback Kevin Davidson graduated in May after a stellar season that included a seven-touchdown performance against Bucknell, but the Tigers didn't lose any other notable starters. For other teams, a hole at quarterback would be worrisome, but Princeton is just too talented to count out of contention.
2. Dartmouth (9-1, 6-1 Ivy, T-1st)
This past season, the Big Green went 9-1 under coach Buddy Teevens and finished with a share of the Ivy League football championship. With this title, Dartmouth now has the most of any team at 19, a shocking accomplishment for a team that was winless as recently as 2008.
Despite being defending Ivy champions, Dartmouth will have some big holes to fill on both sides of the ball. On offense, the Big Green will lose Caylin Parker — a solid contributor at running back — as well as wideout Drew Estrada to graduation. Defensively, they'll miss Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Jack Traynor and Isiah Swann, who led the team with four interceptions in 2019. The X-factor for the Big Green is senior quarterback Derek Kyler, who is the only quarterback on the roster with significant collegiate experience. If Kyler can step up and become a leader for Dartmouth, the Big Green could clinch a share of the Ivy title again.
3. Harvard (4-6, 2-5 Ivy, T-6th)
2019 proved to be a disappointing season for the Crimson and longtime coach Tim Murphy. They're now four full seasons removed from 2015, when they completed a three-peat as Ivy champions. Attracting high-caliber talent has never been the problem; Harvard has the most three-star recruits on its roster of any Ivy League team.
This next season, though, the Crimson should have plenty of optimism. Returning are senior running back Devin Darrington, senior tight end Ryan Reagan, and linebacker Jordan Hill — all of whom made significant strides last season under Murphy. Quarterback Jake Smith also returns with plenty of experience — he has played in 26 games for the Crimson so far. With talented pieces and a coach with a proven track record, don't be surprised if Harvard returns to the top this next season.
4. Yale (9-1, 6-1 Ivy, T-1st)
Boasting some of the most skilled offensive players in the Ivy League last season, the Elis racked up the most total offensive yardage, touchdowns, and points in the League en route to a share of the Ivy title despite a subpar defensive season. Quarterback Kurt Rawlings led the Ivy League in touchdown passes, Zane Dudek piled up 754 rushing yards, and wideouts JP Shohfi and Reed Klubnik finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the Ancient Eight in total receiving yards on the season.
The bad news? Rawlings, Dudek, Shohfi, and Klubnik all graduated in May, and the four of them accounted for 93% of Yale's offensive yardage in 2019. Sophomore Tipton Mason should be a focal point for the Elis on offense — he's the only returning player who racked up more than 200 yards from scrimmage last season. Nonetheless, with so many question marks for the Elis on offense, it's hard to have faith that they can repeat their success from last season.
5. Penn (5-5, 3-4 Ivy, T-4th)
Long gone are the days when Penn was a perennial contender for the Ivy League crown. The Quakers stumbled out of the gate to a 0-3 Ivy record last season, but they found more success in November with wins over Brown, Cornell, and Harvard. Nonetheless, the Quakers struggled mightily in conference play at times. Columbia throttled Penn 44-6 in the most lopsided Lions-Quakers game in 141 years, and the Quakers also looked outmatched in losses to Dartmouth and Princeton.
Penn will need to find a replacement at quarterback with the recent graduation of Nick Robinson, who started every game for the Red and Blue. The most obvious candidate is senior quarterback Ryan Glover, but Glover underwhelmed as a full-time starter in 2018. There's also a glaring hole at running back with the departure of Karekin Brooks, who paced the Quakers' backfield with 1004 rushing yards last season. Senior Isaiah Malcome, who was injured after last year's season opener, figures to find some work as a change-of-pace back, while junior Trey Flowers figures to slot as the power back in coach Ray Priore's offense.
Defensively, the Quakers graduated arguably their top three best defenders in Zach Evans, Sam Philippi and Prince Emili. Fortunately, the Red and Blue will return juniors Ryan Cragun and Rory Starkey Jr., who finished third and sixth in total conference receiving yards, respectively, and senior linebacker Brian O'Neill will look to build off a strong 2019 season that earned him second team All-Ivy recognition. To climb the standings this next season, the Quakers will not only need strong performances from holdovers but will also need players to step up at certain positions.
6. Brown (2-8, 1-6 Ivy, 8th)
After longtime successful coach Phil Estes retired after a recent rough stretch, expectations were low for first-year coach James Perry. Brown surprised teams at times, though, especially towards the end of the season, thanks to outstanding play by junior quarterback and Boston College transfer EJ Perry. Brown's offense ranked No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision in offensive yardage, and Perry was awarded first team All-Ivy honors.
With a year of experience for both James Perry and EJ Perry, Brown should be poised to climb out of last place in the Ivy League. The Bears lost some contributors on defense, but Brown's last-ranked defense arguably needed some changes regardless. And with that much offensive firepower, Brown may not need its defense to do that much.
7. Columbia (3-7, 2-5 Ivy, T-6th)
The Lions came into this season with high hopes; coach Al Bagnoli's recruiting was finally going to shine as his first recruiting class at Columbia became seniors. After some early season struggles, Bagnoli's squad crushed Penn and edged Harvard, and things looked to be trending in the right direction. Unfortunately for the team, the Lions couldn't keep up strong early-season defensive momentum; they allowed an average of almost 21 points per game over their first four games, but let up an average of 47 points in their four final conference losses.
Junior quarterback Ty Lenhart is a big question mark on offense after a mediocre sophomore season, and he'll face competition from senior Josh Bean. Regardless of who's under center, junior running back Ryan Young has 19 games of experience under his belt, and with more time to develop in Bagnoli's offense, he should find more running room next season.
8. Cornell (4-6, 3-4 Ivy, T-4th)
Coach David Archer's team got off to a rough start in conference play last season, but they played competitively with close losses to Yale, Georgetown, and Harvard. As the season progressed, the Big Red found some momentum, and they were able to topple Dartmouth and give the Big Green their only loss of the season. The Big Red graduated first team All-Ivy running back Harold Coles in May, and they'll also lose another big contributor on offense with the departure of Owen Peters, who led the team in receiving in 2018.
The issue for Cornell is on defense, which was a strength for the team that allowed just 20.7 points per game this past season. This past year, Big Red graduated a League-high seven starters on defense. However, they'll return sophomore linebacker Jake Stebbins, who earned three Ivy League Rookie of the Week awards and ranked fourth nationally in sacks among FCS freshmen.
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