Last season was one for the ages in the Ivy League, with Princeton going 10-0. It was the fourth outright Ivy League title in Princeton history, and the first since 1995. It was also the program’s second 7-0 Ivy season since league play officially began in 1956, and the 13th 7-0 season in Ivy League history, and the first since 2014. 9-1 Dartmouth was a heartbreaking second place to the Tigers, their only loss a 14-9 instant classic at Princeton. This season, will it come down to another battle of unbeatens?
Don’t be fooled by a second by looking at Princeton’s roster and seeing QB John Lovett and WR Jesper Horstead missing thanks to graduation (and the NFL) – Princeton was a stacked team in 2018 and will continue be stacked in 2019, with an extremely good chance to go undefeated for the second year in a row.
A young, wildly inconsistent Yale team was agonizingly close to a breakthrough last season and could be the team best poised to knock the Tigers off of their perch. Wins last season against FCS semifinalist Maine show that this team is very close, and almost everybody returns for the Eli.
Are the Crimson officially back after their 45-27 win over hated Rivals Yale in the 2018 rendition of “The Game”? CSJ thinks so, with a bunch of returning players and a three-game winning streak dating to last season. Sophomore RB Aaron Shampklin emerged to help get the ship righted in mid-season and re-establish Harvard as a title threat in years to come. “The Game” could truly have an Ivy League title on the line this year.
Ray Priore‘s Penn Quakers are a dark horse to win the Ivy League title, but boast a returning core of players that no Ivy League team will relish facing. RB Karekin Brooks has emerged as a multi-purpose threat out of the backfield, and if Penn finds some players to replace their two leading tacklers last year, they could absolutely be in the mix for the championship
It’s not that Dartmouth has suddenly gotten bad – especially with several critical players that have returned for a 5th year – it’s that the top of the Ivy League is so stacked, any one of the top 5 could be in the title hunt. one of the best overall athletes in the Ivy League, CB Isaiah Swann returns in the Dartmouth secondary for his senior season – last year’s Ivy League Defensive Player of the year had more interceptions in 10 games (9) than any other player in Division I playing as many or more games. Like Penn, nobody will want to see Dartmouth come to town, either.
Last season, head coach Al Bagnoli guided the Lions to their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1961/1962. However a tougher schedule and a murderer’s row of teams in the Ivy League might make back-to-back-to-back winning seasons a tall order, especially with sophomore QB Ty Lenhart under center.
The Big Red have a lot of seniors returning, especially in the trenches. That might be good enough to carve out another win or two after going 3-7 in 2018, but Cornell needs a new starting quarterback to blossom into a star if the Big Red is to hope to get to .500..
After a 1-9 season, longtime head football coach Phil Estes stepped down as Bears head football coach after an illustrious 21 year career. To replace him, the Bears hired a hot up-and-comer young coach in James Perry, who happens to have been Estes’ most prolific quarterback as a player (9,294 yards passing and 74 TDs) and one of his most valued assistant coaches – in 2008, he was on Estes’ staff that delivered an Ivy League title. Perry’s ground-up rebuild will result in some interesting in-state matchups against Rhode Island and Bryant (Perry’s former team), but it might not result in a lot more wins.
5 Big Conference Games to Watch
1. Dartmouth at Penn 10/4
2. Princeton at Dartmouth 11/16
3. Yale at Princeton 11/16
4. Princeton at Penn 11/23
5. Harvard at Yale 11/23, The 136th Playing of “The Game”
Ten Players to Watch from the Ivy League
Offensive Players to Watch
1. WR – Reed Klubnik, senior, Yale
2. RB – Karekin Brooks, senior, Penn
3. RB – Aaron Shampklin, junior, Harvard
4. TE – Graham Adomitis, senior, Princeton
Chuck has been writing about Lehigh football since the dawn of the internet, or perhaps it only seems like it. He’s executive editor of the College Sports Journal and has also written a book, The Rivalry: How Two Schools Started the Most Played College Football Series.
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