On Saturday, Penn football (5-0, 2-0 Ivy) begins the second half of its season in a Homecoming matchup with the Yale Bulldogs (4-1, 2-0). Four Daily Pennsylvanian Sports writers take their picks for who will emerge with a win.
Penn 27, Yale 17 — Eashwar Kantemneni, Deputy Sports Editor
Penn football is on a roll right now, and no challenge seems to faze the team. The Quakers will face their toughest challenge of the year up to now this Saturday, when they take on a Yale team that has won four straight. A major part of the Bulldog offense comes from the legs of quarterback Nolan Grooms, who has already rushed for over 400 years this season.
Penn faced a similar dual-threat in Dartmouth’s Nick Howard three weeks ago, and the defense was able to contain him by forcing him to throw the ball. Expect for Priore and company to try to do the same for Grooms, who has thrown a lackluster five touchdowns to eight interceptions this season through the air.
The Quakers also did a great job of stopping the run against Columbia and can replicate that performance this week against one of the top rushing teams in the Ivy League. On the other side of the ball, Yale has a stout pass defense, but a suspect rush defense. Penn has proven to be able to run the ball on good teams this year, but the health of senior running back Trey Flowers, who missed the last game with an injury and is having an outstanding year so far, remains an uncertainty.
Regardless of whether Flowers plays or not, I expect this game will go down to the wire, and the Quaker defense — as it's done all season — will close it out with a clutch turnover or defensive play.
Penn 20, Yale 17 — Matthew Frank, Sports Editor
When Penn football steps onto Franklin Field Saturday afternoon, it’ll be exactly 364 days since the Quakers’ last bout with Yale, where Penn fell 42-28 in New Haven, Conn. Like this weekend, last year’s Yale game marked the first contest of the second half of Penn’s season. But for the Quakers’ 2021 team, it also served as a necessary change-of-pace for a group that needed one. Then-freshman Aidan Sayin stepped into the role of quarterback, and though he’d finish 1-4 in the starting role, Penn had its quarterback of the future.
Now 5-0, Penn doesn’t want or need a change of pace. Yale acts as one of the first major challenges for a Quaker squad seeking its first Ivy title since 2016. Though Penn has collected two conference victories so far, both Dartmouth and Columbia have lost each of their other Ivy League games and look a notch below where they were last season.
Without a test as great as Yale so far, Penn’s defense has proven its worth over five games where the unit hasn’t allowed a single offense to break out. The offense, though, has flustered on several occasions, struggling to put together complete drives. Look for the Quaker defensive unit to carry the team yet again in a tight-knit contest.
Penn 23, Yale 17 (Overtime) — Brandon Pride, former Sports Editor
Sixty minutes won’t be enough for these two incredibly evenly matched teams. Ultimately, the Quakers’ staunch defense and clutch quarterback play will push them over the top to their first 6-0 record since 2003 (an undefeated season) in front of a Homecoming crowd that should be a little more lively than usual.
The Red and Blue will be facing a similar challenge to the one they faced a few weeks ago up in New Hampshire against Dartmouth, going up against a team that excels at the run and led by a quarterback who is not afraid to carry the ball himself. Penn, however, is holding its opponents to a measly 2.3 yards per carry. Meanwhile, it touts an offense that is seemingly getting better every week, not to mention a couple of injured stars who are probably to return this week.
Yale is still a good Ivy League team, so while the Quakers won’t be euthanizing the Bulldogs this weekend, they will still be able to put them down for a nice nap.
Penn 35, Yale 21 — Walker Carnathan, Sports Reporter
The Quakers are coming home, and they bring with them both an undefeated record and immutable confidence. Penn is 5-0 for the first time in nearly 20 years, setting the stage for a bout with Yale that has the chance to be historic, both in the context of Homecoming weekend and in what it means for the program.
While the Penn offense has ebbed and flowed this season, two straight performances of over 34 points have the group in an ideal spot. That corresponds perfectly to a Yale defense that, while talented, does not have as strong of a track record as some of the others Penn has defeated. Even with running back Flowers’ status still up in the air, I see the Quaker offense having its most complete performance of the season, and quarterback Sayin tossing three or more touchdowns in a decisive victory.