Nov

16

Columbia Football: Ivy League Champions?

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A group of Columbia football players celebrating after the game, with number 33 caught in a pose with his arms out and his knees bent.

With moves like these, how could they not succeed on the field?

As dozens of articles from inside and outside of the Columbia community have already mentioned, Columbia Football is good! Furthermore, they used to be bad! At Bwog, we’ve taken a look at what some football alumni think of the Lions’ newfound success, and we’ve given the professional advice on how to be a bandwagon fan. But with only one game remaining, one question remains – could Columbia become champions again?

The Lions (4-2 Ivy, 7-2 overall) have a clear path to the championship, a feat they have only accomplished once before. Columbia will have to defeat Brown (0-6 Ivy, 2-7 overall) up at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at 1 pm on Saturday, November 18th, and they will also need the Yale Bulldogs (5-1 Ivy, 8-1 overall) to lose in New Haven against the Harvard Crimson (3-3 Ivy, 5-4 overall). Thankfully, the Ivy football season does not have a needlessly arcane and surprisingly emotional tiebreaker system like Ivy basketball. If the Lions and Bulldogs both end the season at 5-2, they will share the Ivy title honors. And if Dartmouth also ends the season at 5-2, there could be a three-way tie at the top of the league.

The 2017 Lions are lucky to still be in the hunt for a title. A 5-2 team has not won the Ivy League since 1982, when Harvard, Penn, and Dartmouth all tied at the top. (Columbia that year finished 1-6 while giving up 36 points per game to Ivy opponents.) This year’s Ivy League might not have the one dominating force that often rises to the top of the Ancient Eight.

Yale Sports Analytics, one of the leaders in Ivy football and basketball analysis, doesn’t give Columbia great odds for getting a share of the championship. While they pegged a Columbia win over Brown at 80% odds, they consider Yale similarly prohibitive favorites at home against the stagnant Crimson. With Harvard at only a 30% chance of victory, the odds of Columbia winning and Harvard losing work out to only 24%.

One piece of good news, though, is that The Game between Harvard and Yale will start at 12:30 pm, while the Lions will not start playing until 1:00 pm. Fans in the audience will get to follow along, and will know whether or not the Lions’ hopes remain alive.  Columbia would love to control its own destiny for the championship. But considering that Columbia Football has not had a meaningful final game of any season since 1971, Saturday’s game is a cause for celebration.

Dance, Lion, Dance via Columbia University Athletics

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