Going into the 2013 season, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Ivy football is that just about all of its teams—Columbia included—are either trending upward or looking to stay at the top.
The perennial favorites, Penn and Harvard, will most likely be battling it out for the top spot once again. After Harvard rocked the Light Blue in early November last season, it looked like the Crimson would run away with the league title. But Penn—a team Columbia was a defensive stop away from defeating last year—beat Harvard in Week 9, and won the 2012 Ivy title outright with a victory over Cornell a week later.
The defending Ivy champs didn’t buy into the old adage, “If you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks” last year, but after Andrew Holland’s graduation, Billy Ragone should see the majority—if not all—of the time under center. Harvard’s Conner Hempel seems poised to win the Crimson’s quarterback battle. The junior saw limited action last season with first-team All-Ivy selection Colton Chapple ahead of him, but did play well when he received the chance.
Brown lost its beast of a linebacker in first-team All-Ivy selection Stephen Zambetti, but still has a chance to make its way to the top with its always-strong defense and quarterback Patrick Donnelly under center. Princeton and Dartmouth round out the middle of the pack—both sporting solid defenses and returning quarterbacks.
Finally, Cornell and Yale come into the season with high offensive aspirations resting on two of the league’s best players. The Big Red had a great offense for the last two seasons with Jeff Mathews, but will need better play from the offensive line to keep him healthy. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, need to stay at full strength around running back Tyler Varga in order to compete. Yale’s quarterback position was so depleted in 2012 that Varga had to fill in at quarterback for Yale’s game against Columbia.