Believe it or not, the time has finally come.
After going 0-for-Nonconference games, and having all five wins come in the fourth quarter, there is one thing that is absolutely undeniable about the Cornell football team this year:
It is one home win away from an Ivy title.
Yeah, there are the “What Ifs” — What if Joe Splendorio didn’t block that kick at Harvard, what if Yale’s Mike Murawczyk hadn’t missed that field goal, what if Princeton’s Taylor Northrop hadn’t tripped over the 10 yard-line of Schoellkopf’s turf, what if Columbia had just one extra second — but they don’t matter now.
And yes, Cornell’s run defense has been about as hard to cut through as butter that has spent the last 10 minutes in the microwave, and the Red’s running game doesn’t function until the fourth quarter (if at all), but those things don’t really matter now either.
And indeed, the pass defense looked suspect against the Lions on Saturday, but that also doesn’t matter.
All that matters now are wins and losses. And at the moment both Penn and Cornell are 5-1 in the league, and no other Ivy team has much to play for this Saturday.
The simple fact is that head coach Pete Mangurian, his staff and his team have been able to win game after game. Maybe this victories come by what seems to be an act of God. But when you do it as consistently as they do, it must be a result of something more than luck, otherwise these folks would stop playing football and start playing at Turning Stone.
And the Columbia game was a perfect example.
I had the opportunity to watch the game with two of New York’s Finest, who obviously didn’t know much about Cornell football.
All game they kept wondering how Cornell could be atop the league, while the Lions were hanging out at the bottom.
All game I told them to wait until the fourth quarter, then they would see a team that just knew how to win.
When Ricky Rahne “raced” down the sideline for a 35-yard touchdown romp with 7:03 to play in the third to put the Red up by four, they assumed it was time to leave.
I told them Cornell doesn’t win like that and they should just hang on to their seats.
So they did, and when Johnathan Reese put the Lions up by three with 4:21 to play, I said, “Now you’ll see why we’re one of the best teams in the league.”
After a cool, calm and collected touchdown drive that put the Red back on top and brought the clock down to a brief :44 remaining, they looked at me as though I had just talked to a psychic.
Then I told them not to go just yet, and that we would still make it close.
As time expired with Columbia on the Cornell two yard-line, the cops looked at me as though I had seen this all before.
Little did they know that they were right on both counts.
By this point in the year I have given up on wondering how this team wins — the simple fact is that it does.
So this Saturday, as the Ivy title is being decided, keep this in mind when you are in the stands: this team is never out of it.
And regardless of how ugly the game is, how terrible Cornell plays for the first 45, 50 or even 55 minutes of the game, it will be close in the end.
And if Cornell can pull out one more game, there will be one more thing that is certain about this squad:
Archived article by J.V. Anderton