Leilani Burke/Sun Staff Photographer

The Red is seeking to improve to 2-1 in the Ivy League.

October 19, 2023

PREVIEW: Football Returns to Conference Play Against Brown

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At the midway point of the season, it has been an up-and-down road for football. After starting off hot with two straight wins, the team has hit a rough patch, losing its past three games. As the heart of the Red’s schedule looms, with five Ivy games left in the year, it is now or never for the team to right the ship. Cornell will have its first opportunity this Saturday, Oct. 21, when it hosts Brown at Schoellkopf.

The Red (2-3, 1-1 Ivy) is coming off a 21-13 loss to Bucknell. After holding a lead early in the third quarter, Cornell’s offense was shut out for the final 28 minutes of the game, allowing the Bison to mount a comeback with two touchdowns.

The game marks the second time this season that the Red has lost a lead in the second half, with the first coming on Homecoming when the team fell to Colgate. Against Bucknell, Cornell struggled to maintain drives, going 3 for 13 on third down. The Red also had issues with penalties, committing six for 75 yards.

“Total killer,” said head coach David Archer ’05 on the penalties. “The hands to the face — that’s a technique that’s going to get called — we’ve got to correct that.”

The Bears (3-2, 1-1 Ivy) is coming off a thrilling 28-27 overtime victory against Princeton. After overcoming a 14-point deficit in the 4th quarter, Brown blocked the extra point on the Tigers’ overtime score, and then won the game with a touchdown and extra point of its own.

Brown comes into this weekend with a high flying offense. The Bears lead all of FCS in passing yards per game, at 352.6. Quarterback Jake Wilcox leads the Ivy League in passing yards with 1,759.

“You’ve got to make sure you make them uncomfortable,” Archer said. “And you have to understand they’re going to be resilient in what they call. They’re not going to care what the down is or where the ball is, they’re just going to keep throwing that thing up. So you’ve got to be ready to play every play and play a lot of them.”

On the flip side, however, Brown has struggled on defense. The Bears is allowing 399 yards per game and 28 points per game, both worst in the Ivy League.

“We have to be able to get that [the run game] going to continue drives to stay on the field,” Archer said. “And to loosen up the run game, we’ve got to hit some explosive plays.”

When these two teams met last year, the Red never trailed, ultimately winning a close 24-21 game. With both teams having a chance to go above .500 in conference with a win on Saturday, and the last three contests ending in one-possession games, this weekend will likely bring another competitive matchup.

Prediction: Cornell 28 Brown 24

Having lost its last three games, the Red needs to find a way to win if it wants to keep pace in the Ivy League. On Saturday, the team will step up to the occasion, exploiting Brown’s weaknesses on defense to put up points and limit the Bears’ offensive possessions.

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from Schoellkopf Field. The game will also be broadcast on ESPN+.