Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Ivy League maintains its stance on not sending its regular season champion to compete in the FCS postseason, although there appears to be enough league talent to suggest that champion may have some success nationally.
Penn, led by fifth-year senior quarterback Billy Ragone, comes in as the favorite for yet another season. In the past decade, the league has been dominated by Penn and Harvard. The two programs will still be the teams to beat in 2013, but, as several coaches put it, every Saturday will be like a bowl game. Anyone can lose on a given weekend, especially considering the talented players the Ivy League boasts.
Take Brown, for example. Picked to finish outside the top two spots again, but the Bears could easily take the Ivy League by storm this year behind experienced signal caller Patrick Donnelly and a host of offensive explosion.
That explosion is personified in senior John Spooney, who ran track in 2012 and posted the fastest 100-meter sprint time in the Ivy League last season. Spooney will be vying for at least a timeshare of carries with experienced back Jordan Reisner.
Princeton, tied for third last season, had the worst overall record of the deadlocked teams (5-5 overall), yet emerges as a serious contender in 2013 with the return of key players such as Caraun Reid (on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List) and quarterback Connor Michelsen.
Cornell returns top quarterback Jeff Mathews, who starts the season on the Walter Payton Award Watch List.
Even Columbia with Stanford transfer Brett Nottingham making a case to be the starting quarterback will look to make a push out of the Ivy basement.
On paper, there certainly appears to be enough depth to keep Penn and Harvard on their toes. And with large targets on their backs, you can be sure the rest of the Ivy League competition has games with the Quakers and Crimson circled on their calendars.
Following is a team-by-team breakdown of the 2013 Ivy League race.
The Sports Network's predicted order of finish:
1. PENN QUAKERS
COACH: Al Bagnoli (142-66 in 21 seasons at Penn; 228-85 overall)
S Sebastian Jaskowski, Sr. (72 TT, 1.5 TFL, 3 PBU, 3 PD)
K Connor Loftus, Jr. (7-of-10 FG, 28-of-28 PAT)
BIG LOSSES: RT Joe Bonadies, DL Brandon Coleman (51 TT, 5 sacks, 8.5 TFL, 2 PBU, 2 PD, 1 QBH, 2 FR) and CB Dave Twamley (63 TT, 2.5 TFL, 3 PBU, 5 PD, 1 FF, 2 INT)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 149.40 (60 in FCS, 3 in Ivy); Passing Offense, 212.40 (58 in FCS, 6 in Ivy); Total Offense, 361.80 (67 in FCS, 6 in Ivy); Scoring Offense, 23.50 (75 in FCS, 5 in Ivy); Rushing Defense, 130.50 (T/31 in FCS, 4 in Ivy); Passing Defense, 254.80 (106 in FCS, 6 in Ivy); Total Defense, 385.30 (68 in FCS, 5 in Ivy); Scoring Defense, 24.10 (48 in FCS, 5 in Ivy)
OUTLOOK: It's deja vu all over again for the Quakers, who enter 2013 picked as the preseason favorites. Penn has won an outright Ivy title in three of the past seasons, and has its sights set on another. But league coaches say this year is completely up for grabs when it comes to who is likely to win it all. So the Quakers will rely heavily on the fifth-year senior Ragone to guide the squad. Bagnoli said in a media day teleconference that Ragone's experience under center is invaluable, especially in such a tight league. Penn lost some key defenders in Coleman, Twamley and Taylor Brown, so coaches will count on the younger crowd to step up. The Quakers will see three key weeks starting early on when they sandwich two road trips to CAA Football opponents (Villanova and William & Mary) around a home date with Dartmouth.
Sept. 21 - vs. Lafayette
Sept. 28 - at Villanova
Oct. 5 - vs. Dartmouth
Oct. 12 - at William & Mary
Oct. 19 - at Columbia
Oct. 26 - vs. Yale
Nov. 2 - at Brown
Nov. 9 - vs. Princeton
Nov. 16 - at Harvard
Nov. 23 - vs. Cornell
2. HARVARD CRIMSON
LOCATION: Cambridge, Mass.
COACH: Tim Murphy (128-61 in 19 seasons at Harvard; 160-106-1 overall)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 214.30 (17 in FCS, 1 in Ivy); Passing Offense, 273.20 (19 in FCS, 2 in Ivy); Total Offense, 487.50 (3 in FCS, 1 in Ivy); Scoring Offense, 39.40 (4 in FCS, 1 in Ivy); Rushing Defense, 69.40 (1 in FCS, 1 in Ivy); Passing Defense, 251.90 (104 in FCS, 5 in Ivy); Total Defense, 321.30 (19 in FCS, 1 in Ivy); Scoring Defense, 17.40 (8 in FCS, 2 in Ivy)
OUTLOOK: It's mind-blowing to see the amount of offensive production the Crimson lost to graduation and still think they're picked to finish second in the league. But that's the case, especially with a solid group of returning defensive impact players from a year ago. Hempel is listed at the top of the two-deep preseason chart, but may get a push from senior Michael Pruneau for the starting gig. Whoever gets the nod will have huge shoes to fill. Chapple accounted for a significant portion of the Harvard offense in 2012, helped by standout tight end and current Baltimore Raven Juszczyk. The good news for Hempel is that the Crimson return TE Brate, who will likely be a favorite target anywhere on the field, not just in the red zone.
Sept. 21 - at San Diego
Sept. 28 - vs. Brown
Oct. 5 - at Holy Cross
Oct. 12 - at Cornell
Oct. 19 - vs. Lafayette
Oct. 26 - vs. Princeton
Nov. 2 - vs. Dartmouth
Nov. 9 - at Columbia
Nov. 16 - vs. Penn
Nov. 23 - at Yale
3. PRINCETON TIGERS
LOCATION: Princeton, N.J.
COACH: Bob Surace (7-23 in three seasons at Princeton; 25-26 overall)
PK Nolan Bieck, So. (6-of-10 FG, 24-of-26 PAT, 44 points)
BIG LOSSES: DL Mike Catapano (41 TT, 12 sacks, 15.5 TFL, 5 PBU, 5 PD, 3 QBH. 3 FF) and LB Andrew Starks (96 TT, 2.5 sacks, 11.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 2 PD, 2 QBH, 1 INT)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 146.80 (65 in FCS, 4 in Ivy); Passing Offense, 219.40 (50 in FCS, 5 in Ivy); Total Offense, 366.20 (62 in FCS, 5 in Ivy); Scoring Offense, 26.60 (58 in FCS, 2 in Ivy); Rushing Defense, 122.10 (17 in FCS, 3 in Ivy); Passing Defense, 264.70 (111 in FCS, 7 in Ivy); Total Defense, 386.80 (74 in FCS, 6 in Ivy); Scoring Defense, 19.90 (17 in FCS, 3 in Ivy)
OUTLOOK: The Tigers have been hanging on just fine over the last few years in the Ivy League, and this could very well be their breakthrough season. Princeton returns standout defensive lineman Reid, a Buck Buchanan Award nominee and one who is already drawing plenty of attention from NFL scouts. Reid anchors the defense, which is extremely deep in the backfield with youngsters Gaffney and Arends producing early in their careers. Offensively for the Tigers, the 2013 season will be more of a skills position-by-committee philosophy. The Tigers could very well use two or even three quarterbacks in a game. Same for the running backs and wide receivers, though Michelsen and Wilson are standout performers in this offense.
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 139.10 (72 in FCS, 6 in Ivy); Passing Offense, 229.70 (43 in FCS, 4 in Ivy); Total Offense, 368.80 (59 in FCS, 4 in Ivy); Scoring Offense, 21.70 (87 in FCS, 6 in Ivy); Rushing Defense, 113.10 (11 in FCS, 2 in Ivy); Passing Defense, 211.50 (57 in FCS, 2 in Ivy); Total Defense, 324.60 (24 in FCS, 3 in Ivy); Scoring Defense, 16.60 (6 in FCS, 1 in Ivy)
OUTLOOK: If there were a prize awarded for senior leadership, Brown's football team would be the recipient of that award. The Bears are headed by a gigantic core group of experienced players, including Donnelly, who ranked third in the Ivy League in total offense last season (236.8 yards per game). He's been throwing to his top receiver Lundevall since their high school days together, and have definitely developed a solid rapport as a dynamic offensive duo. Donnelly also should have great protection in 2013 with the return of three standout offensive linemen entering their senior campaigns. Brown has placed in the top three of the Ivy League standings each of the last three seasons, and the Bears are hungry to break out into the spotlight. With a non-league schedule that isn't particularly difficult, the Bears could do a lot of damage this year.
Sept. 21 - vs. Georgetown
Sept. 28 - at Harvard
Oct. 5 - vs. Rhode Island
Oct. 12 - at Bryant
Oct. 19 - vs. Princeton
Oct. 26 - at Cornell
Nov. 2 - vs. Penn
Nov. 9 - at Yale
Nov. 16 - vs. Dartmouth
Nov. 23 - at Columbia
5. DARTMOUTH BIG GREEN
LOCATION: Hanover, N.H.
COACH: Buddy Teevens (52-76-2 in 12 seasons at Dartmouth; 86-153-2 overall)
BIG LOSSES: C Rob Bathe, DT Mick Davis (28 TT, 4 sacks, 5 TFL)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 143.10 (68 in FCS, 5 in Ivy); Passing Offense, 239.80 (33 in FCS, 3 in Ivy); Total Offense, 382.90 (53 in FCS, 3 in Ivy); Scoring Offense, 25.10 (66 in FCS, 4 in Ivy); Rushing Defense, 130.50 (T/31 in FCS, 4 in Ivy); Passing Defense, 192.50 (35 in FCS, 1 in Ivy); Total Defense, 323 (22 in FCS, 2 in Ivy); Scoring Defense, 21 (23 in FCS, 4 in Ivy)
OUTLOOK: Last season was agood one for the Big Green with a 6-4 overall record, but it didn't necessarily help the Dartmouth fandom. The Big Green sported a 1-4 record at Memorial Field - that sole win coming in the first week of the season against eventual Pioneer Football League tri-champion Butler. To be fair, three of those losses were to teams at the top of the Ivy League ladder in Penn, Harvard and Brown. The home schedule is a little more favorable in 2013 for Dartmouth, as the Big Green will host six games in Hanover against Holy Cross and Bucknell (out-of-conference games) and Ivy opponents Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Cornell - all teams they beat last season. Teevens may look to employ a two-quarterback system after seeing upside in both Park, who started seven games before being sidelined with an injury, and Williams.
P Kyle Cazzetta, Jr (40 punts, 40 average, 72 long)
BIG LOSSES: LB Will McHale (78 TT, 1.5 sacks, 5.5 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 FF, 1 FR) and CB Collin Bibb (64 TT, 2 TFL, 2 PBU, 3 INT)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 184.60 (31 in FCS, 2 in Ivy); Passing Offense, 170.20 (92 in FCS, 8 in Ivy); Total Offense, 354.80 (76 in FCS, 7 in Ivy); Scoring Offense, 15.80 (112 in FCS, 7 in Ivy); Rushing Defense, 179.90 (80 in FCS, 7 in Ivy); Passing Defense, 244.20 (92 in FCS, 4 in Ivy); Total Defense, 424.10 (97 in FCS, 7 in Ivy); Scoring Defense, 28.90 (73 in FCS, 7 in Ivy)
OUTLOOK: To say the Bulldogs had quarterback troubles last year would be the most vast understatement to date. The injury bug found its way to New Haven, and stayed there. The then-freshman Williams, who started seven games, bowed out for the remainder of the season against Penn. Eventually it trickled down to Furman, who played wide receiver and was the emergency quarterback. This year, Reno and his staff made sure to have plenty of talent at the position, which includes Roberts, the Clemson transfer who is expected to compete for the starting job. There is a lot of upside to this Bulldogs team that won just two games all season in 2012, and it all starts in the backfield with the All- Ivy first-teamer Varga. He's an all-purpose back who will get national attention if he continues to compete at a high level. Starters on the Bulldogs rotate from week to week, depending on the game plan, so it's always tough for opponents to get a good look at a set scheme.
BIG LOSS: WR/RS Luke Tasker (75 receptions, 1,207 yards, 8 TD)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 55.80 (120 in FCS, 8 in Ivy); Passing Offense, 374.80 (3 in FCS, 1 in Ivy); Total Offense, 430.60 (22 in FCS, 2 in Ivy); Scoring Offense, 26.50 (59 in FCS, 3 in Ivy); Rushing Defense, 183 (83 in FCS, 8 in Ivy); Passing Defense, 268.50 (113 in FCS, 8 in Ivy); Total Defense, 451.50 (108 in FCS, 8 in Ivy); Scoring Defense, 30.20 (82 in FCS, 8 in Ivy)
OUTLOOK: There's no doubt the Big Red have their man under center. Mathews is the only Ivy League player to be named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List, and for good reason. The 6-foot-4 quarterback has dominated for two straight seasons. The problem for Mathews and Cornell is simple: who to throw to? Tasker was by far Mathews' favorite target in 2012, and was on the receiving end of eight of Mathews' 18 touchdowns. The senior Gellatly returns as the top pass catcher, but is the only receiver on the roster who registered over 10 receptions last season. Hagy will help provide a multi-dimensional offense in Archer's first season guiding Cornell, and the defense returns some veteran playmakers, especially in the backfield. But when it all comes together for the Big Red, there are just too many missing links that could be dangerous for a team looking to rebound from a 2-5 Ivy record.
Sept. 21 - vs. Bucknell
Sept. 28 - at Yale
Oct. 5 - vs. Colgate
Oct. 12 - vs. Harvard
Oct. 19 - at Monmouth
Oct. 26 - vs. Brown
Nov. 2 - at Princeton
Nov. 9 - at Dartmouth
Nov. 16 - vs. Columbia
Nov. 23 - at Penn
8. COLUMBIA LIONS
LOCATION: New York
COACH: Pete Mangurian (3-7 in one season at Columbia; 19-21 overall)
P Paul Delaney, Sr. (67 punts, 39.6 average, 73 long)
BIG LOSSES: QB Sean Brackett, (175-of-334, 1,876 yards, 8 TD, 12 INT) and DL Josh Martin (50 TT, 6.5 sacks, 11.5 TFL, 3 QBH, 1 FF, 2 FR)
2012 TEAM RANKINGS: Rushing Offense, 99.70 (108 in FCS, 7 in Ivy); Passing Offense, 204.20 (63 in FCS, 7 in Ivy); Total Offense, 303.90 (103 in FCS, 8 in Ivy); Scoring Offense, 14.50 (116 in FCS, 8 in Ivy); Rushing Defense, 151.60 (53 in FCS, 6 in Ivy); Passing Defense, 221.90 (71 in FCS, 3 in Ivy); Total Defense, 303.90 (103 in FCS, 8 in Ivy); Scoring Defense, 27.20 (62 in FCS, 6 in Ivy)
OUTLOOK: The Lions are coming off a 2-5 Ivy League in 2012 and heading into a world of potential opportunity. Without Brackett under center, the team will look to a few options at the quarterback position, namely Nottingham, the Stanford transfer who wanted playing time. He ended up choosing Columbia. There's a good chance Nottingham wins the starting job, but he will be pressed by McDonagh. Although the quarterbacks saw little to no game action last season, whoever wins the job inherits a few of Brackett's top targets, including Nelligan, Connors and Hamilton, along with a slew of young and talented receivers. Garrett will likely shoulder much of the offensive load, and will look to improve upon his production from last year. Defensively, the Lions are led by Olinger, but will severely miss Martin and linebacker Mike Waller to halt opposing offenses. It will be a few weeks into the season before the Lions can take a step back and examine what they truly have, and what holes (if any) they will need to fix.
Sept. 21 - at Fordham
Sept. 28 - vs. Monmouth
Oct. 5 - at Princeton
Oct. 12 - vs. Lehigh
Oct. 19 - vs. Penn
Oct. 26 - at Dartmouth
Nov. 2 - at Yale
Nov. 9 - vs. Harvard
Nov. 16 - at Cornell
Nov. 23 - vs. Brown
08/27 05:58:36 ET
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