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Senior running back Jonathan Mulatu charges down the field during the Homecoming game against Yale at Franklin Field on Oct. 22. Credit: Michael Palacios

Coming off of a nail-biter Homecoming win against Yale, undefeated Penn (6-0, 3-0 Ivy) is set to play Brown (2-4, 0-3) this Saturday in Providence, R.I. This game is yet another test of consistency and execution for the Quakers, as they aim to maintain their best start to the season in 19 years.

Saturday's contest will likely be decided in large part by Brown's passing game and Penn's defensive efforts to stop it, as both units rank highly in the Ivy League.

The Bears are led by junior quarterback Jake Willcox, who has thrown for 1,662 yards so far this season, the most in the conference.

Penn's passing defense, meanwhile, ranks second-best in the Ivy League in yards allowed and first in defensive passing efficiency.

The Bears' record currently stands at 2-4 and winless in the Ivy League through three contests, but those losses came in close calls. Brown lost by seven to Harvard, three to Cornell, and fell by 16 to Ivy powerhouse Princeton. 

Even though Penn comes in with more success this season than Brown, coach Ray Priore emphasized that this upcoming game is no free win.

“[In Brown’s games against Harvard and Princeton], they did a great job just really fighting to the end,” Priore said. “They got their guys playing really, really hard, and there should be a heck of a contest. It's all about [our] preparation … both on the football field and in the classroom. So as long as we execute and do our plans, we're hopeful that we have a talented enough team to be successful.” 

The Quakers' defense played particularly well against Yale on Saturday, as they have all season, allowing just 13 points. This year, they've yet to give up 20 or more points against an Ivy League opponent, and have also been contributing some big plays of their own. Just before halftime against Yale, junior defensive lineman and reigning Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week Joey Slackman tipped a pass, and senior linebacker Jake Heimlicher came down with a key interception that set the offense up for a game-tying score. 

On the offensive side of the ball, sophomore quarterback Aidan Sayin has continued to step up, throwing all 12 of the squad’s passing touchdowns this season. Despite Sayin’s impactful performance, he attributes the Quakers’ recent success to a growing sense of confidence among his teammates — both on offense and defense. 

“I think confidence as an offense has been growing every game,” Sayin said. “That's really been a spark to what we need in our defense that has kept us in every game and allowed us to put them away when we needed to. It's still our first year with our offensive coordinator. So just improving every week fixing little details that we need to work on, that's been our biggest improvement so far.”

Sayin currently leads the Ivy League in passing touchdowns and is at the forefront of an offense that is currently ranked second in the Ivy League behind Princeton. He showed off his cool composure against Yale last week, standing tall in the pocket despite the rush, making accurate throws, and calmly taking what the defense gave him on each play as he led the Red and Blue down the field for the game-winning score. He also flashed his athleticism by hauling in a 26-yard reception from wide receiver Maurcus McDaniel on a trick play. It was against Brown last season when he had his breakout game, and he hopes to put up another strong performance against the Bears this weekend.

Sayin is well aware of Priore’s priorities of attention to detail and going out and playing hard. Sayin said that his squad plans to play with the intensity and explosiveness they have every other week and that even though the season is over halfway over and they’ve been undefeated, he and his teammates are motivated to keep improving and keep winning. 

“We're excited about what we've done so far, but we're not satisfied,” Sayin said. “We’ve just got to keep going, keep it rolling and keep getting wins together.”

Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m., and the game is available to stream on ESPN+.