Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Versus Misstep?... Not!

Versus' money will probably be very well spent this week

Every game Columbia has played this year has pretty much gone down to the wire. There have been super highlights, bonehead mistakes, and some weird stuff happening in each contest for both the Lions and their opponents. Each game has been exciting.

The same is true for each and every one of Columbia's games against Dartmouth since 1997. The one blowout in that 11-game stretch was the Lions 49-21 win over the Big Green on Homecoming in 2000... but that win featured Johnathan Reese's single-game record rushing performance and enough big play highlights to keep both teams' fans in their seats until the game ended.

Last year's game in Hanover was a real barn burner that wasn't over until the final seconds.

Other memorable games in that stretch are a 1-point victory by Dartmouth at Wien Stadium in 2002, a mistake-prone but still exciting 9-6 win by Columbia in 2004 when both teams were 0-5 as they are now, and the Lions 1998 win over Dartmouth which was Columbia's first win in Hanover since 1946 and first win against Dartmouth anywhere since 1971.

The point is, the Columbia-Dartmouth series has been as competitive and exciting as Ivy rivalries get over the past decade and change. Don't tell that to die-hard Big Green fans who are probably ashamed that their once-dominant team has "fallen: to our level. But the folks at VERSUS shouldn't be ashamed because this will probably be another close game filled with enough highlights to keep viewers glued to their sets.

Overall, I'm not as surprised by Dartmouth's 0-5 record as Columbia's, considering the brutal schedule the Big Green face year after year during the first half of the season. But I am very surprised to see that Head Coach Buddy Teevens and company haven't been able to open things up more for their talented running back Milan Williams. I realize the already-inexperienced offensive line has been banged up, but Williams may be the second best rusher in the Ivies and it's a shame to see his talents wasted. Because of O-line problems and because they've fallen behind early in a number of games, Dartmouth is throwing the ball a lot and finding some a new receiving star in QB-turned WR Tim McManus. Throwing the ball early and often and abandoning the running game may not be the recipe for getting wins in this league, (Columbia tried it a lot in recent years with limited success), but it is a recipe for exciting games.

Another fun aspect of Dartmouth game week is the fact that fans get to enjoy a lot more information about the contest thanks to the extensive and fun coverage of Dartmouth football on Bruce Wood's Big Green Alert and Big Green Alert Blog. The blog in particular is really must-reading for all Ivy sports fans all year round.

I'd love to see a blowout for the Lions over Dartmouth as much as anyone on the planet, but if you're paying attention to this season and the last 11 before them, you have to predict yet another pulse-raising contest here.

Bring your defibrillators and buy your tickets now!


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