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Graduate running back Isaiah Malcome runs into the endzone to score a touchdown during the game against Lehigh on Oct. 9. Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

In their second Ivy League conference match-up, the Quakers (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) are preparing to face the Columbia Lions (3-1, 0-1) at their homecoming this Saturday, Oct. 16. 

Following a dominant 20-0 performance against Lehigh, the team is looking to start off the first in a series of six straight Ivy League games with a win after their first conference loss to Dartmouth two weeks ago. 

Penn will try to capitalize off of the momentum built last week by running backs Isaiah Malcome and Trey Flowers, who combined to rush for over 300 yards. At the same time, the defense will try to continue its dominant performance to maintain their top-10 nationwide ranking in red-zone defense, first downs allowed, and passing yards allowed, among other categories. The team will also have two first-string starting cornerbacks on the field after missing last week’s game. 

The Quakers will be going up against a strong Lions defense, led by senior linebacker Cam Dillon, who set a new record for most sacks in a single game (5.5) against Central Connecticut State University, in a game that ended in a tight 22-20 victory for Columbia. 

The Lions' formidable offense has also scored 35 points or more in both their wins at home this season, and they are one of just three Ivy League teams to average over 180 rushing yards per game. 

Penn’s all-time record against Columbia is 75-23-1, including 23-15 in the Big Apple, although the Quakers have not won in New York since 2015. Other than the last match-up in 2019, when Penn scored only two field goals and gave away a whopping 44 points in a historic loss, the two teams have generally played each other in close games in recent years.  

“Every time since I’ve been here it has been a contest," coach Ray Priore said.

The game has a personal component as well. Columbia’s coach Al Bagnoli served as the head coach for the Quakers for 23 years, from 1992-2014.

“I know his team will come ready to play,” Priore said of his former boss. The real question is if Penn will be even more prepared to win.