Why Yale will beat Penn | Greg Cameron, Yale Daily News
Welcome to the third edition of "Why Penn will lose" as Greg Cameron of the Yale Daily News explains why the Elis will beat the Quakers on Saturday. Disagree? Comment below.
A year ago Sunday, in the matchup we’re about to see tomorrow, Penn football took a game from Yale, 28–17, at Franklin Field.
Decisively so, as the Bulldogs found themselves down 28–3 at the end of three quarters, and their two touchdowns in the fourth were not nearly enough to overcome the deficit. The loss, perhaps the only one in the Elis’ last five games of the season that reasonably could have been avoided, dropped Yale’s record to 0.500 for the first time and did serious damage to the team’s position in the standings.
Though Penn and Yale finished the season tied with a 3–4 conference record, the 28–17 final showed that at that moment, the Quakers were the better team.
But that Yale squad was nothing like the one that the Bulldogs are bringing to the Yale Bowl tomorrow.
A year ago, running back Tyler Varga ’15, the Ivy League rushing and touchdown leader who requires roughly four or five defenders to take down, was sidelined with a foot injury.
A year ago was the first start for quarterback Morgan Roberts ’16, who was still adjusting to head coach Tony Reno’s hurry-up spread offense after his transfer from Clemson. You could say he’s adjusted now — he’s averaging 331.8 passing yards per game, leading all Ancient Eight quarterbacks by over 70 yards. Last week against Colgate, he went off for 379 while still leaving room for partner-in-crime Varga to score five touchdowns.
A year ago, Yale wasn’t leading the entire 124-team Football Championship Subdivision with 46.0 points and 601.2 total offensive yards per game.
No one has been able to stop this offense in Yale’s first five games, and Penn’s seventh-best defense has not given much reason to believe that it will reverse that trend. Dartmouth came closest, holding the Elis to 31 points while quarterback Dalyn Williams led his team to a narrow 38–31 victory.
That isn’t to say that a win in this contest won’t be easy. After last year’s loss and Penn’s Ivy championship two years ago, no one doubts head coach Al Bagnoli’s ability to win big games.
But if Penn wants to steal an important victory in Bagnoli’s final year, it’ll likely have to do so the same way as Dartmouth did: on the offensive side.
Admittedly, Yale’s young defense has its holes, despite strong individual talent scattered around the field. This year’s defense has followed a consistent theme: allow big numbers for three quarters, and then make a few major stops when it counts.
Penn’s offense, currently ranked fifth in the Ancient Eight in points scored and riding momentum from its first win, may have what it takes to walk over the Bulldogs for all four quarters. None of its performances thus far have been particularly noteworthy, but this could be the breakout game for quarterback Alek Torgersen and his offense.
We at the YDN see this game as one that Yale should and must win to remain a legitimate power in the Ivy League. But it’s not one that the Bulldogs can’t lose, especially considering the Quakers’ motivation to turn their season around with a statement in this game.
If the Quakers can limit the damage that Roberts, Varga and captain and wide receiver Deon Randall ’15 create, and if Torgersen can lead his offense to another strong performance, we could see a completely different game from the one projected on paper.
All there is for our two newspapers to do, then, is wait and see.