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Senior wide receiver Rory Starkey, Jr. outruns Harvard defenders as he runs the ball down the field during the game at Franklin Field on Nov. 12. Credit: William Bartoc

Penn enters its final game of the season as 14.5-point underdogs. Based on that spread, it'd be hard to have a ton of faith in the Quakers against Princeton. But the only other time they were double-digit underdogs this season, the Red and Blue marched into Dartmouth and took a statement win, so anything's possible.

Five Daily Pennsylvanian staffers make their predictions ahead of Saturday's season-ending contest.

Princeton 24, Penn 14 — Brandon Pride, former Senior Sports Editor 

Despite what our algebra teachers may have taught us, the transitive property actually does not exist … at least not in Ivy League football. Princeton, a dominant team, lost to Yale, a good team that lost to Penn but beat Brown, a team that topped Penn, by 52 points — you get the picture. That’s why it’s almost fitting that the conference could end up in a four-way tie; however, I don’t expect Penn to get the job done on Saturday. 

The Tigers’ offense will no doubt be hard for the Quakers to contain, but even if the typically stout Red and Blue defensive front performs well, the question will be if the offense can still keep pace. Princeton is only allowing 12 points per game on the season, and, despite its improvements, Penn will likely still have a tough time moving the ball consistently at Princeton Stadium.

Princeton 28, Penn 13 — Jonah Charlton, Editor-in-Chief

With one game to go, it’s already safe to say this season has been a major success. Penn has already won seven games after winning only three a year ago, sophomore quarterback Aidan Sayin has taken major steps forward as the team’s signal-caller, and the Quaker defense has quickly become one of the best in the conference.

All of that being said, Penn is still far from the best team in the Ivy League, which showed in last week's blowout loss against Harvard, as the Princeton Tigers appear to still hold that designation. Leading the Ivies in passing yards per game, passing efficiency, defensive yards per game, touchdowns allowed, as well as a litany of other critical metrics, Princeton needs to simply beat Penn this weekend to reclaim at least a share of that title.

Given Penn’s recent running game woes, its complicated path to even a share of the Ivy title, and the fact that the Quakers are on the road against their biggest rival, I expect that Princeton’s dynamic passing attack and ball-hawking defense to prove too much of a challenge and for Penn to fall in the season finale.

Penn 28, Princeton 23 — Esther Lim, Sports Editor

After accepting its first defeat of this season at the paws of Brown, Penn managed to steer its ship away from a downward slide; a departure from mirroring the bleak three-loss conclusion to the 2021 season. The weekend following, Penn dug its heels into Ithaca ground and survived in relevance with a 28-21 win against Cornell. 

Defeat at Brown had snipped short a six-game undefeated streak which fueled a triumphant momentum for weeks. The gravity of the stakes after their first loss weighed ever large on the Quakers as they headed to confront Cornell. Yet Penn returned to the field, albeit without much grandeur, and emerged with the win with an out-of-character loss to disprove. 

Penn now faces one final stage to play out its opportunities. By now the scripts should be solid, the actors ready, and understudies prepared to pounce at any chance to prove their own name and elevate Penn. The Quakers surfaced at the start of this season through waters of doubt and discount, and this week feels somewhat the same. As Joey Slackman described after Penn's win at Cornell, the Quakers are "in a week-by-week mindset and taking things one step at a time. Everybody's tired. Everybody's sore. Everybody's mentally exhausted. But it's about how we can get up for each week and attack each day."

Princeton 28, Penn 13 – Caleb Crain, Sports Associate

Turn back the clock three weeks. Penn football is 6-0, coming off a Homecoming win against previously-unbeaten Yale. The offense is clicking on all cylinders, and the defense is hunting opponent ball carriers like U-boats prowling the Atlantic. 

But in the last three weeks, the Quakers have suffered a collapse that would make even Kliff Kingsbury proud. The defense sputtered in a close loss at lowly Brown, and last week, the entire team looked inept as Harvard came into Franklin Field and trounced Penn. 

Penn still has a shot to clinch an Ivy title this weekend. But to do that, it has to beat a Princeton team that cruised to an 8-0 start before a narrow loss to Yale last weekend. Penn's defense gives up the fewest points in the Ivy League … by a full touchdown’s margin. The air attack, led by Colorado transfer Blake Stenstrom, is undeniably elite. But with any giant, there are flaws: Princeton simply cannot run the football, and despite forcing 15 interceptions, opposing quarterbacks complete nearly 65% of their passes. 

The Quakers have a chance this weekend. But they simply do not have the athletes to keep up with Princeton. Unfortunately, this season will probably end with another loss, and be remembered as yet another disappointment.

Penn 23, Princeton 21 — Eashwar Kantemneni, Deputy Sports Editor 

On paper, Princeton should be able to easily handle Penn. On paper, the Tigers have a higher-ranked offense and defense. On paper, momentum also favors Princeton, with its only loss coming in a game against a good Yale game marred by questionable officiating, while Penn has been floundering the past three weeks, dropping winnable games to Brown and Harvard. 

But nothing this season has gone according to plan for the Quakers. On paper, they should have finished in the bottom half of the Ivy League. But instead, they are 7-2, and have a legitimate chance to bring home a piece of the Ancient Eight crown this weekend, if things go according to plan. While I cannot speak for Harvard in “The Game,” I believe the Red and Blue will do everything in their power to win their first Ivy League title since 2016.

Like any giant, Princeton has their flaws. Despite having a top-three offense in the conference, the Tigers have the worst-ranked rushing attack, and though they have the top-ranked defense, they still allow their opposing signal-callers to complete 64.7% of their passes, which is the second-worst in the league. 

If Penn can capitalize on these flaws, by selling out more on the run and confusing Tigers quarterback Stenstrom in the pocket, taking and making safe and substantial throws on offense, and controlling the game clock to keep the ball away from Princeton’s explosive offense, it has a shot to pull off the upset. I believe that coach Ray Priore will have his players motivated and team ready to play from last week’s embarrassing home defeat on Family Weekend and the Quakers will out-tough the Tigers to a nailbiting victory. 

Also, while Penn is a 14.5-point underdog in this game, don’t forget that the last time the Quakers were an underdog of close to that margin, they went to Hanover, N.H. and beat Dartmouth this season.

DPOSTM Season Records

Walker Carnathan: 5-2

Brandon Pride: 3-2

Eashwar Kantemneni: 3-1

Matthew Frank: 3-0

Kristel Rambaud: 1-2

Sean McKeown: 1-1

Joey Piatt: 1-0

Jonah Charlton (NARP): 1-0

Caleb Crain: 0-1

Justin Schwartz: 0-1