I went to a little school called Cornell... have you HEARD of it?
Cornell is another one of those Ivy teams that's a little hard to figure out. The Big Red began the season 3-0, highlighted by a great defensive effort in a 17-14 home win over Yale.
But then the bottom fell out as Cornell lost four in a row with only one of those games being close, (the 31-26 loss to Princeton at home), before burying reeling Dartmouth at Schoelkopf last weekend.
For a 4-4 team, the Big Red's stats are right in line. They're giving up about as much rushing yards as they gain, and passing for about the same amount of yards as they give up.
The quarterback, Nathan Ford, is throwing for a lot of yards and TD's, but also lots of interceptions.
The leading running backs, Randy Barbour and Luke Siwula, have their moments but both are averaging under four yards per carry.
The leading tackler, Tim Bax, is in the secondary... which is a bad sign, (for Cornell, that is).
You could crunch the stats more for additional evidence of why the Big Red are a prototypical .500 team, but the Columbia-Cornell series over the last 20 years has really not been about stats. The two New York Ivies have played an overwhelming number of close and exciting games since 1989 no matter where they were sitting in the standings.
Last year was one of the very rare years when the game was not really that close. A touchdown return on the opening kickoff began a flurry of bad luck for the Lions that ended in a 34-14 loss. You have to go back to 1990, when the Big Red drubbed the Lions in rain-drenched game by 41-0, to find the last home game when Columbia was routed by Cornell.
But since 1989, Cornell leads the tight series 10 wins to 9 with 10 of those games decided by a touchdown or less.
I expect this weekend's game to be tight again, and another test for the young but very talented Lions secondary.
The Cornell-Columbia game is usually very well attended, thanks to regularly strong attendance from the Cornell alumni who make the game a big event at their alumni club. That includes a short parade, rain or shine.
Speaking of Cornell alums, perhaps the most famous Cornell alum these days is the fictional "Andy Bernard" character from NBC's The Office.
The character actually mentioned Nathan Ford's name during a funny moment in a recent episode of the show that got me laughing and gasping at the same time.
For some reason, the Andy Bernard character is a total idiot, which I fear may be the result of Harvard alum and Office writer/actor B.J. Novak's, (no relation), typical Harvard snobbery. My suspicions of Harvard elitism dripping into Bernard's antics take some of the fun out of it for me even though I'm not a Cornell alum of course. I have to say that Ivy-over-other-Ivy elitism and snobbery depresses me like nothing else. Whenever I see it, I am more inclined to believe that even if there were just two people left on Earth, they would eventually kill each other.
Okay, back to the game...
The forecast is for steady rain Saturday, and that could keep the numbers down... which is a shame because this is also "Senior Day" for the 17 guys on the roster who stuck it out for four years. For the last few years, the final home games have begun with each senior getting individually introduced and met on the field by his family. It's a great tradition that I hope continues.
A tradition that I hope also continues is Columbia's one game home winning streak, not only this season, but also against the Big Red who fell to the Lions 21-14 the last time they came to Wien Stadium.
I hope to see you there too.