Finishing the '95 Season
In 1995, the Columbia Lions were an exciting team with an explosive running QB and tons of potential.
They were without their best defensive lineman, as Marcellus Wiley '97 was taking a year off. Thus, the Lions defense allowed too many yards and points and Columbia had trouble in its non-Ivy games.
Columbia began the year with its first win over Harvard since 1979, then the Lions suffered a home loss to an unfamiliar opponent in St. Mary's before a heartbreaking tie at Lafayette a week later.
Columbia's next game was a history-making triumph at home against a Penn team that had squeaked by Bucknell at Franklin Field the week before.
Let's hope this sounds familiar a week from today.
But while there were a lot of happy moments in the 1995 season, it remains a year that I and most Columbia fans consider incomplete, unfinished, and unfair.
Mike Cavanaugh '96 was that running QB in '95 and he was tearing up the league through week 6. he was on a pace to throw for nearly 2,000 yards and rush for about 850. He was making the key plays when the Lions needed them.
Despite those two losses and a tie to non-league opponents, Columbia was 3-0 in the Ivies with wins over Harvard, Penn, and Yale going into a showdown for first place at Princeton's Palmer Stadium.
Early in the game Cavanaugh's leg was broken, and so was Columbia's most promising season in a generation.
Now Columbia comes into a crucial battle with Penn for at least a tie for the top spot in the Ivies. The Lions sport a super running and passing QB in M.A. Olawale, and a defense that has been allowing too many yards and time of possession to out of league opponents.
Just like 1995.
But unlike 1995, there are some good differences. Olawale has a lot more weapons to throw to like Austin Knowlin, Mike Stephens, Taylor Joseph, and Andrew Kennedy. He has an Ivy League leading tailback in Ray Rangel. And as good as the Columbia offensive line was in 1995, this current front five may be better.
Our best run-stopper Ownen Fraser has been out since early in the Fordham game, but unlike Wiley who was out all of '95, Fraser may be back this week. We will await the release of the two-deep for more info on that.
And unlike 1995, we all pray Olawale remains healthy. The horrific injuries that have already hit the Ivies this season are sobering already. Jordan Culbreath is now out for the year for sure, and Dartmouth QB Alex Jenny is probably gone for at least another few weeks. We await news on our 1st Team All Ivy linebacker Alex Gross, but as Coach Wilson said in the postgame news conference, the prognosis is not good.
As saddening as the Gross injury is, the Lions remain relatively healthy compared to Penn and Dartmouth and a few others. If Olawale remains as durable as he has been so far this season, Columbia's chances will be strong in the stretch run.
But first we have to beat Penn.
The national pundits and list-makers are taking notice.
Here is how Columbia ranks in some of the key polls and computer models:
(just the Ivies and Columbia's other opponents this year... this idea comes from Bruce Wood of Big Green Alert)
58 Central Connecticut
150. Central Connecticut State
Both of these polls place Columbia ahead of Penn. It's up to the Lions to make those rankings stick.
Time to get your tickets now for Homecoming vs. Penn NOW!! You can also call 1-888-Lions-11 and GET IT DONE!!!