October 23, 2000

Upset Saturday Leaves an Ivy Mess

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Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Going into this weekend, three teams — Princeton, Penn and Cornell — found themselves in the driver’s seat of the Ivy League, all sporting 2-0 conference records.

On Saturday, however, all three were unceremoniously knocked off their perches. First, the Quakers fell in a 27-24 squeaker to Yale. Then Tigers were manhandled at home by Harvard, 35-21. Finally, in a game that spanned nearly four hours, Cornell squandered a golden opportunity to take control of the Ivies, losing 56-40 to Brown.

In a matter of hours, Saturday’s Ivy slate erased the untainted records of the leading schools and left the league with a convoluted jumble at the top. Five schools — Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn and Cornell — now stand together at the head of the conference, rendering the remaining four weeks of football one hell of a dogfight.

“Everything’s tied,” said Cornell head coach Pete Mangurian. “There are just a few more people at the party.”

“It’s typical Ivy League,” added Penn head coach Al Bagnoli. “Every team’s got a realistic chance.”

What makes the homestretch of the conference schedule so interesting is how unpredictable the league has been in preceding weeks.

Look, for example, at a string of games that have involved Brown, Princeton, Harvard, and Cornell. On September 30, the Crimson opened the Ivy season by handing the Bears a 42-37 loss. Two Saturdays later, Cornell defeated Harvard, 29-28. Then the following weekend, on October 14, Princeton laid waste to Brown, 55-28. Finally, just this past Saturday, Harvard beat Princeton while Cornell lost at Brown.

Without a doubt, the conflicting league results have left both the odds-makers and coaches confounded.

“Any given Saturday, there’s not a lot of difference from the top of the conference mountain to the bottom,” said Harvard head coach Tim Murphy.

Even Columbia (1-2 Ivy), Brown (1-2) and Dartmouth (0-3) — who all look to be out of the title picture right now — can either play the roles of glorified spoilers or perhaps claw their way back to the top.

“The talent in the league is very similar,” explained Princeton head coach Roger Hughes, adding, “I think [Columbia and Dartmouth] are still in the hunt.”

Brown can’t win the Ivy title because of NCAA sanctions.

Though its two Ivy victories have come by way of a pair of one-point victories against Yale and Harvard, Cornell arguably has the inside track at the championship.

“We play three out of out four games at home [against Princeton, Dartmouth and Penn],” Mangurian said. “And two of the ones we don’t play [Harvard and Yale], play each other. “

“We can still win this thing,” he incredulously continued. “It’s unbelievable.”

Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj