For the first time in a number of years, football will be playing meaningful November football. Entering week 8 of the Ivy League, Harvard and Princeton lead the pack at 3-1 in conference, but five teams sit right behind them at 2-2. Two of those squads, Cornell and Penn, square off this Saturday, Nov. 4, in Philadelphia. The winner will remain right in the mix for an Ivy title, while the loser will likely be out of contention.
The Red (3-4, 2-2 Ivy) is coming off a home loss to Princeton. The offense was lackluster throughout the game, putting up a season-low three points.
Cornell’s defense stood tall against a weaker Princeton offense, allowing two touchdowns. The first came on a deep shot in the first quarter, and the second came just before halftime.
“I wish I had managed the clock better at the end of the half and at the end of the game,” said head coach David Archer ’05. “You can try to eliminate or add a possession in those instances and in those games that are so close, that really is a big deal.”
Despite the loss, wins against Yale and Brown earlier in the season have been enough to keep the Red in contention for the stretch run. Cornell will likely need to win out and get some help if it hopes to win a share of the Ivy title.
“That’s the goal of the program, to position yourself where the games in November count,” Archer said. “And then keep earning another meaningful game every week and see what happens in the last game.”
The Quakers (5-2, 2-2 Ivy) lost to Brown, 30-26, at home last Friday, Oct. 27. After Penn took an early lead, the Bears went on a 27-10 run in the middle of the game.
Penn’s other loss of the season was against Dartmouth in overtime on Sep. 30. The Quakers is undefeated on the road.
On offense, Penn is led by quarterback Aidan Sayin and wide receiver Jared Richardson — who leads the Ivy League in catches, with 57, and is second in yards and touchdowns. The Quakers ranks second in the conference in total offense and time of possession, where Cornell ranks first.
“We’ve got to be good at changing the picture on them,” Archer said. “And the key to winning time of possession is not only keeping yourself on the field but getting them off of it, so we’ve got to be great on third down defensively.”
Penn sports a balanced defense that ranks second in the Ivy League in total defense, rushing defense and passing defense. The Quakers also leads the conference in sacks, with 17.
“We’ve got to be able to move the pocket,” Archer said. “We’ve got to be able to get the screen game going and change it up on them, while trying to loosen the defense to take some shots downfield.”
With much on the line for both teams, this game is as close to a playoff atmosphere as the Ivy League experiences.
“We are here now with so much to gain and earn and be evaluated on,” Archer said. “This is a meaningful game in November — this is our conference tournament.”
Prediction: Penn 27 Cornell 17
The Red’s offense looked suspect against Princeton, and though Penn does not carry a top-ranked defense like the Tigers, its unit should be able to do enough at home to contain Cornell’s attack. On the flip side, the threat of Richardson will open up the rest of the Quakers’ offense, as Penn extends its streak of scoring 20 or more points, which it has every game this season.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from Franklin Field. The game will also be broadcast on ESPN+.