Best Case Scenario
The folks in the Ivy League office have to be giddy about the situation we have going into the final weekend of the football season. Four of the eight teams in the league, (Brown, Harvard, Penn and Yale), have a legitimate shot of getting some piece of the league title by the end of the day Saturday and two of the other four teams in the Ivies, (Columbia and Cornell), get the chance to play big-time spoliers.
The other game on Saturday, Dartmouth at Princeton, has drama too as the Big Green will try to avoid becoming the first Ivy team to go 0-10 since Brown laid the goose egg in 1992.
For Columbia, there's a very good chance to finish right in the middle of pack after being picked overwhelmingly to finish dead last in the league in the preseason poll. A win over Brown added with a Penn win over Cornell and a Dartmouth win over Princeton would give the Lions sole possession of fifth place. Not bad for a 0-7 team in the league last season.
On the individual front, the final weekend probably won't pack as much drama. Only one Ivy rusher, Princeton's Jordan Culbreath, has a shot at getting 1,000 yards for the season. But at 930 yards coming in against Dartmouth's worst-in-the-league rush defense, Culbreath seems like a good bet.
For the QB's, Harvard's Chris Pizzotti has 17 TD passes and just four interceptions, giving him a pass efficiency rating just under a stunning 150 for the season. The trouble is, he'll have to maintain those numbers against a super-stingy Yale defense that has thrived against the pass this year.
Some of the individual stat races on defense are basically over, and some are neck-and-neck.
Columbia's Alex Gross has pulled away in what had been a very close race for the total tackles crown. Going into the final weekend, the Lions super sophomore linebacker has 96 tackles and a 12 tackle lead over Dartmouth's Ian Wilson. Fellow Lion Drew Quinn is fourth with 80 stops and the senior about to play his final game is just one tackle behind Princeton's Steven Cody for third place.
Lou Miller has also put away the race for total tackles for a loss. The junior defensive end for Columbia has an amazing 18.5 TFL's, seven more than #2 Matt Curtis of Harvard and 8.5 more than #3 Bobby Abare of Yale. Miller is also still #1 in sacks with 8, but he is only one sack ahead of Kyle Hawari of Yale right now. In total tackles, Miller has blown away every other defensive lineman in the Ivies, with 61 stops. A distant second among linemen is Hawari with 42.
(It is my sinking feeling that somehow the coaches will snub Miller and keep him off the first team All Ivy list. That just can't be allowed to happen. Miller can make an excellent case for being the best defensive linemen in the league this year, and is certainly in the top four).
Columbia's Adam Mehrer is among five players tied for the league lead with four interceptions going into the last game. The sophomore safety should get plenty of opportunities versus Brown's pass-happy offense.
Some Other Interesting Stats
-Columbia's rush defense is now allowing just 97 yards per game. That's 59% fewer yards than last years 237 yards allowed per game. Even the Dow Jones isn't down that much over the past year!
-Despite getting nailed for a ton of yards through the air over the last two games, Columbia is still in the middle of the pack in overall pass defense. But a more telling stat is TD passes allowed. The Lions have given up only 10 TD passes, and that's second in the Ivies behind Yale's 6... and let's see where Yale is after this coming weekend against the Crimson. Also, the drop off in pass defense is deceiving in that opposing teams are being forced to throw against Columbia much, much more than the past three seasons and that's skewing the numbers.
-Columbia and Yale are tied for the team lead in sacks with 20 while the Lions have allowed just 13 sacks against.
-The Lions are second in the league in rushing offense, just eight yards per contest behind league leader Princeton. Columbia hasn't been out of the basement in rushing offense in many years.