This Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Penn football (6-0, 3-0 Ivy) — coming off a nail-biting final-minute victory against Yale at Franklin Field last week — will travel to Providence, R.I. to take on Brown (2-4, 0-3) in its seventh game of the season and its fourth in Ancient Eight play. Four Daily Pennsylvanian sports reporters make their picks ahead of the Quakers' battle against the Bears.
Brown 23, Penn 20 - Brandon Pride, former Senior Sports Editor
At the surface level, one would think Brown’s chances of winning this game would be about on par with the odds of Russell Wilson winning the NFL MVP Award this year, but a closer look reveals a much tighter matchup. Although the Bears currently tout a dismal 0-3 conference record, they have played several close games against quality opponents, and even looked respectable against Ivy powerhouses Princeton and Harvard.
Penn’s defense has bordered on elite all season long, but their strength has always been against the run and against mobile quarterbacks. The Bears do not excel in the run so the Quakers will have a tougher time taking away their strength. Brown’s signal caller, junior Jake Willcox, is doing an admirable job of filling NFL signee E.J. Perry’s shoes and has been improving every week, giving the Red and Blue a tough test through the air.
Penn will need to rely on an improved offensive performance to pull out a victory. It relied on big plays to score points last week, not gaining a rhythm until toward the end of the game. Given that Brown’s defense has struggled at times this year, the Quakers will have an opportunity, but I think the Bears find themselves on the right side of a close game this time around.
Penn 31, Brown 14 - Kristel Rambaud, Sports Reporter
With Penn boasting a 3-0 conference record and Brown being 0-3 in Ivy play, this Saturday’s game looks like a guaranteed win for Penn.
Brown has been focused on offense all season. They average 24.83 points per game, but the strategy clearly isn’t enough given their record. They’re going up against a red-hot Penn defense that have held their opponents to an average of 14.33 points per game.
To keep Brown’s offense stagnant, Penn will need to stop Bears quarterback Willcox. On the season, Willcox averages 277 passing yards per game, a 63% completion percentage, and 11 touchdowns — not too far off of Penn’s own signal caller Aidan Sayin. But Willcox also has nine interceptions on the season and is going up against a Penn defense that has gotten at least one pick in the past three games.
Coaches have said for years that defense wins games — and it looks like defense will win this one too.
Penn 24, Brown 14 - Walker Carnathan, Sports Reporter
Brown may not be the most daunting opponent, but the fact that this matchup seems like such a decisive victory for Penn is a testament to how far the Quakers have come this season. In 2021, both teams were Ivy League cellar dwellers, with the Bears at 2-8 and the Quakers at 3-7. Now, a season later, the Red and Blue have emerged from the quagmire, and will look to put their former identity behind them once and for all with a defeat of the Bears.
Unlike many of the ground-and-pound offenses that Penn has faced this season, Brown’s strength lies in their air attack. Bears quarterback Willcox has tallied over 1,600 passing yards through six games, and will be undoubtedly the best opposing signal caller Penn’s Sayin has had the chance to duel with. But Willcox also has a propensity for turning the ball over, which will pose a significant problem against a ball-hawking Quaker secondary. Expect Willcox’s Ivy League-leading total of nine interceptions to increase on Saturday, and for those giveaways to pave the way for a comfortable Penn win.
Penn 31, Brown 17 - Justin Schwartz, Sports Reporter
Although the midterm elections are 13 days away, expect both a Red and Blue wave to hit Providence, R.I. this Saturday. The Quaker’s success will likely center around its lockdown defense, which ranks second against the pass and third against the rush in the Ivy League.
The defense held Yale to just 24 yards in the first quarter and paved the way for a game-tying touchdown thanks to Joey Slackman tipping Yale quarterback Nolan Grooms' throw and Jake Heimlicher’s subsequent catch. If Brown’s offense produces a mere 1.4-2.9 yards per rush as it did against Princeton and Cornell, respectively, the Bears will encounter turbulence when attempting to gain traction against Penn’s strong front.
Although maybe a tier below its defense, Penn’s offense has proven that it can rise to the occasion in game-defining moments. Jonathan Mulatu’s last-second rush against Yale to take the lead and Trey Flowers' momentous 2OT touchdown against Dartmouth have compensated for could-be-better charging line numbers. Expect the Quakers' continuously improving passing game to bolster Penn to a comfortable halftime lead, and the defense to carry over from there.