Time to Shine
The Adams Family: Jeff Adams and the O-line need to pave the way for the Lion pride (CREDIT: Columbia Athletics)
Columbia Lions vs. Pennsylvania Quakers
Location: Franklin Field, South 33rd and Spruce Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Kickoff Time: 12:00 pm
Gametime Weather Forecast: 62 degrees, partly cloudly, and very windy
The Spread: Pennsylvania is favored by 6 ½ points
Columbia Game Notes
Pennsylvania Game Notes
Columbia has lost 13 straight to the Quakers, by far their longest current losing streak against any Ivy team. Most of the losses have been downright ugly, but the last few games at Franklin Field have been tighter.
This is the most significant game for the Lions in at least seven years, and not just another game for the Quakers who have a chance to grab the inside track to the first repeat solo championship in the Ivies since the 2002-2003 Penn teams.
Despite Penn’s mostly dominant play as a program since 1982, both schools routinely recruit some of the same players as the local metropolitan regions overlap.
In other words, there are a lot of players on both teams that were either passed over or desperately wanted by the other guys. That always makes things more interesting.
For Penn’s side, they are at least playing the part of respectful adversaries. Head Coach Al Bagnoli had nothing but good things to say about the Lions in the weekly coaches teleconference. Even most of the fans on the chat boards are saying they expect a tough game.
Keys to the Game
Win the Turnover Battle
Penn’s big weakness has been turnovers. Every one of the three Penn QB’s this year has thrown too many interceptions relative to passes attempted. Turnovers have been the key to several key scores against the Quakers this season. And with their defense, it may be the best way to get on the board.
Columbia has taken very good care of the ball, and needs to continue to do so. Lion turnovers, especially in their red zone and in the Quaker red zone, were key factors in their last two losses to Penn.
Move Forward on the Ground
Columbia’s running attack will face a very rough test against the Quakers, but the Lions don’t need a 200 yard rushing performance to win. Simply moving the ball forward, even just at three or four yard clips at a time, would help a lot.
Attack the Back Four
The Penn defense is all about that front seven and how it controls the game. Hardly any opponents even get the chance to test the rest of the troops. And that doesn't mean you can expect the secondary to be weak. There are some talented players back there, including Stanford transfer Fred Craig, who played with a number of Columbia Lions in high school at Saint Xavier in Cincinnati.
But you can infer that the "back four" will be at least a little rusty. Opposing teams have only passed an average of 22 times per game against Penn, and that has a lot to do with a great pass rush and good coverage on short passes.
The Lions are uniquely qualified to test the Quaker deep coverage with Sean Brackett’s ability to scramble for time to throw to the many speedsters at wide out on the team right now.
Cover the Kicks, and Make the Most of Returns
Penn is returning kicks really well, but who can deny that Columbia's Craig Hamilton isn't one of the hottest returners in the league right now? The Lions need to win the overall kick returning battle Saturday, especially when it comes to giving the offense breathing room vs. the Quaker "D."
Play One Game, Not 14
Yes it's been 14 years since Columbia beat Penn. But this Lion team isn't responsible for any history but their own. They need to be amped up for a big game to determine this year's Ivy title, not worried about overcoming nearly a decade and a half's worth of futility.