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Penn football will face Columbia on Oct. 14 at the Wien Stadium in New York.

Credit: Michael Palacios

After a thrilling 42-39 overtime victory against Georgetown, Penn football (3-1, 0-1 Ivy) will resume Ivy League play this Saturday in New York against Columbia (2-2, 0-1). 

Last season at Franklin Field, the Quakers played host to the Lions in a dominant 34-14 victory, improving their record to 5-0 on the season. Current senior defensive back Kendren Smith and wide receiver Josh Casilli both had tremendous afternoons that day: Smith recorded two fumble recoveries and an interception, while Casilli caught 11 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. Now-junior quarterback Aidan Sayin also had a great showing through the air, going 29-45 for 299 yards and three touchdowns. This weekend, the Red and Blue will look to put together a similar performance and earn their first Ivy win of the year.

For most of three quarters against Georgetown, Penn looked as dominant as in earlier wins against Colgate and Bucknell. With just five minutes left in the third quarter, the Quakers were up 29-13, dominating in all three phases of the game, including when they forced a safety by the Hoyas after a botched snap sailed out of the back of the end zone. 

After that, however, Penn’s defense began to unravel, as they allowed 226 yards of total offense and got outscored 23-7 during the rest of regulation. While the defense was able to step up in overtime and crucially hold the Hoyas to a field goal before freshman running back Malachi Hosley scored a game-winning touchdown, coach Ray Priore wants to see a more consistent performance throughout from the team this week. 

“On defense we didn’t play the best fourth quarter, we played good through three quarters, but we just got to finish better on that side of the ball,” Priore said. 

After facing a tough Hoya air game last week, the defense will have a calmer challenge this week, as Columbia’s passing offense is ranked last in the Ivy League. Lions quarterback Caden Bell has only completed 42.7% of his attempts this season, with just one touchdown and an interception. Much of the Lions' offensive production comes instead from their backfield, where the running back tandem of Ty’son Edwards and Joey Giorgi have combined for three touchdowns and over 100 yards per game this season. The Quakers did a solid job of holding the Hoyas to just 3.7 yards per carry on 40 attempts, and will need to replicate or improve on that performance this week to secure a victory.

Penn’s offense, however, will have a tough challenge ahead of them with Columbia’s Ivy-leading scoring defense, much improved from a season ago. The Lions' pass defense has only allowed a 57.4% completion percentage and zero touchdowns through the air this season. While Georgetown quarterback Tyler Knoop managed three touchdowns and 272 yards against Penn, he could only muster half of that two weeks earlier against Columbia in a 30-0 loss. 

While Sayin and the rest of Penn's offense are more than capable of bucking those trends, the Red and Blue may look to emphasize their rushing attack this week, after averaging 5.3 yards per carry against Georgetown and with Hosley coming off of the best performance of his young Penn career. 

“They got a really good defense and run game and they’re well-coached," Priore said. "It’s homecoming for them, so they will definitely come out ready to play, and it’s always a challenge when we go up there."

The Quakers will take on that challenge this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Wien Stadium, and will be broadcast on ESPN+. This also marks the first Penn-Columbia matchup since 1991 without head coach Al Bagnoli on either sideline, as the longtime Quakers head coach retired in August.