At the Crossroads
Not only are the Columbia Lions at an important crossroads right now, but so is the rest of the league.
Only Harvard and Penn are undefeated in Ivy action and neither has looked quite dominant enough to feel like they can beat anyone on any given Saturday in the league.
Brown is starting to look better and better every week, but the Bears have that early loss to Harvard around their necks already.
The other 1-1 teams are Columbia, Yale, and Cornell with the struggling Dartmouth and Princeton at 0-2.
If you look at the schedule for this weekend, just about every Ivy team has an important question to answer Saturday.
For Columbia, it needs to decide whether it's going to remain a real contender to finish the season in the top tier or whether it's going to slide down with the cellar dwellers. A loss to Dartmouth would be a huge detour on the road to respectability the Lions began when the season began. A win would help rejuvenate a team that's had the wind knocked out of them with two tough losses in a row.
Columbia's long history at Dartmouth has taken a different look since 1998. That was the year the Lions finally beat the Big Green in Hanover for the first time since 1946. The next meeting at Memorial Field was 2001, also a Columbia victory, with the 2003, 2005 and 2007 games all being nail-biter wins for Dartmouth. Before that '98 game, just about every game against the Big Green in Hanover had ended in a bad blowout loss for Columbia.
The 262 mile trek to Hanover for Columbia is one of the longest road trips in the Ivies, and the longest for Columbia. But this Lions team is too talented to let road trips trip them up.
Speaking of road trips, have you ever wondered which are the longest or shortest in the intra-Ivy football rivalry? How about wondering which team has the longest and shortest average trips in the league?
See below and now you will know!
Columbia-Dartmouth: 262 miles
Columbia-Cornell: 228 miles
Columbia-Harvard: 208 miles
Columbia-Brown: 175 miles
Columbia-Penn: 102 miles
Columbia-Yale: 75 miles
Columbia-Princeton: 56 miles
AVERAGE ROAD TRIP DISTANCE FOR COLUMBIA: 158 miles
Brown-Cornell: 327 miles
Brown-Penn: 276 miles
Brown-Princeton: 230 miles
Brown-Dartmouth: 186 miles
Brown-Columbia: 175 miles
Brown-Yale: 103 miles
Brown-Harvard: 56 miles
AVERAGE ROAD TRIP DISTANCE FOR BROWN: 193 miles
Cornell-Harvard: 329 miles
Cornell-Brown: 327 miles
Cornell-Dartmouth: 299 miles
Cornell-Yale: 259 miles
Cornell-Penn: 230 miles
Cornell-Columbia: 228 miles
Cornell-Princeton: 222 miles
AVERAGE ROAD TRIP DISTANCE FOR CORNELL: 271 miles* TOPS IN THE IVIES
Dartmouth-Penn: 364 miles* LONGEST ROAD TRIP IN THE IVIES
Dartmouth-Princeton: 318 miles
Dartmouth-Cornell: 299 miles
Dartmouth-Columbia: 262 miles
Dartmouth-Yale: 189 miles
Dartmouth-Brown: 186 miles
Dartmouth-Harvard: 126 miles
AVERAGE ROAD TRIP DISTANCE FOR DARTMOUTH: 249 miles
Harvard-Cornell: 329 miles
Harvard-Penn: 308 miles
Harvard-Princeton: 262 miles
Harvard-Columbia: 208 miles
Harvard-Yale: 134 miles
Harvard-Dartmouth: 126 miles
Harvard-Brown: 56 miles
AVERAGE ROAD TRIP DISTANCE FOR HARVARD: 203 miles
Penn-Dartmouth: 364 miles* LONGEST ROAD TRIP IN THE IVIES
Penn-Harvard: 308 miles
Penn-Brown: 276 miles
Penn-Cornell: 230 miles
Penn-Yale: 176 miles
Penn-Columbia: 102 miles
Penn-Princeton: 46 miles* SHORTEST ROAD TRIP IN THE IVIES
AVERAGE ROAD TRIP DISTANCE FOR PENN: 215 miles
Princeton-Dartmouth: 318 miles
Princeton-Harvard: 262 miles
Princeton-Brown: 230 miles
Princeton-Cornell: 222 miles
Princeton-Yale: 130 miles
Princeton-Columbia: 56 miles
Princeton-Penn: 46 miles
AVERAGE ROAD TRIP DISTANCE FOR PRINCETON: 181 miles
Yale-Cornell: 259 miles
Yale-Dartmouth: 189 miles
Yale-Penn: 176 miles
Yale-Harvard: 134 miles
Yale-Princeton: 130 miles
Yale-Brown: 103 miles
Yale-Columbia: 75 miles
AVERAGE ROAD TRIP DISTANCE: 152 miles* LOWEST AVERAGE IN THE IVIES
Interesting that Penn is part of the longest road trip in the league with Dartmouth, but also enjoys the shortest hop in Ivy play with that 46 mile march to Princeton.
Columbia finishes pretty well just ahead of Yale to barely miss out on the shortest average road trip distance in the league. Being in the central location of New York City has its advantages, BUT sometimes the bulk of time for the Lions road trips is spent just trying to get out of Manhattan traffic.
I head up to Hanover this Friday night and I know that the first 25 miles will take as long as the next 100... at least! Ugh.
More Crossroads for the Others
Brown faces Cornell in Ithaca this weekend, and the Bears need to prove that the long road trip won't phase their recent boost in on-the-field quality. Cornell can make a lot of believers out of the current doubters and make a serious case for ending in the first division if the Big Red can pull off a win.
Yale comes in to Franklin Field and will try to make Penn prove how well it can play against an Ivy team that doesn't make tons of turnovers in a game. Yale's defense will get a chance to answer the question of whether it's really as strong as it has looked the last two weeks or the unit that gave up a ton of points to Lafayette.
Harvard seemingly has an easy mark against a wounded Princeton team at Harvard Stadium Saturday... but Princeton put up a good fight at Brown and has nothing to lose while the pressure will be on the Crimson.
The coaches on the weekly Ivy League media teleconference seem to be getting less and less informative with their answers, but you can listen to the whole thing here.
Coach Wilson had some nice words of praise for Lou Miller, his brother Evan, and Austin Knowlin that you'll want to hear.
As far as Dartmouth Head Coach Buddy Teevens, I have never witnessed him being more tight-lipped than I have in recent weeks. Without seeing him in person, I can't be sure, but he also sounds somewhat upset. I guess losing 17 in a row will do that to anyone, but Buddy Teevens is one of the warmest personalities in this league and in all of college football and I hate to see that spark go out.
One piece of info that I did get from the teleconference that I was not completely aware of was the fact that the Big Green are apparently running the wildcat formation direct snapping to star RB Nick Schwieger a few times per game. I thought the Lions defense generally contained the Penn wildcat with Matt Hamscher, but it is an element Columbia will have to account for.