Football Ivy Title on the Line Saturday

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PHILADELPHIA -Senior Day takes on extra meaning for the Quakers as the senior class attempts to bookend their careers with Ivy League titles. A win today clinches Penn’s first Ivy League championship since their freshman season in 2012, and the program’s 17th Ivy title overall—second-most all-time. The Quakers will have to go through Cornell in the fifth-most played rivalry in FCS history. The 122nd meeting with the Big Red kicks off from historic Franklin Field at 1 p.m.

The Penn-Cornell Series—122nd Meeting
For the 97th consecutive year, Penn and Cornell will meet on the gridiron. Penn has won 70 of the first 121 meetings, but the teams have split the last four. In fact, the home team has not won in this series since the Quakers clinched the first of two straight undefeated Ivy League seasons with a 34-0 victory in 2009. Penn is 54-34-4 all-time against Cornell at Franklin Field.

Trustees’ Cup
Started in 1995, Penn has won the Trustees’ Cup 14 times. This will be the 21st time it has been awarded to the winner of Penn-Cornell in honor of the FCS’ fifth-longest rivalry.

Ivy Title Scenarios...
... if Penn wins, the Quakers are guaranteed a share of the title (would share with Harvard or Dartmouth or both if those schools win) and can win the title outright for a league-record 13th time if both Harvard and Dartmouth lose. (17th overall Ivy championship).
... if Penn loses the Quakers can share the title if both Harvard and Dartmouth also lose.

Senior Class of 2016
Soon-to-be Ivy League graduates, the Senior Class of 2016 can earn their second Ivy League championship ring on Saturday. They would be Penn’s fifth class to leave with multiple Ivy championship rings in the last six years. The group won their first title as freshmen in 2012 and are assured to be Penn's seventh straight senior class to graduate with at least one Ivy championship. With a win over Cornell, that trend will be guaranteed to continue through the Class of 2019—which means 10 straight recruiting classes would graduate with a minimum of one championship ring.

Quick Quaker Notes
This is Penn’s first five-game winning streak since a string of eight consecutive wins to end the 2010 Ivy title season ... The Red and Blue’s six overall wins and five Ivy wins are the most since the 2012 title season ... Penn is 4-0 under Coach Priore when leading at the half and 5-0 when leading after three ... Penn has forced a turnover in 12 straight games, including 17 takeaways in the last five games (+11 turnover margin in the current five-game win streak) ... The Quakers have recorded a sack in nine of the last 10 games ... Penn has allowed just seven fourth-quarter points in its six Ivy League games (only score came with Penn up by 27 at Brown) ... Penn has defeated two Top 25 teams in the same season for the first time since 2006 (at #22 Lafayette and vs. #17 Harvard).

Watson Watch
- Sophomore Justin Watson has had multiple receptions in all 19 games of his career.
- Has caught five or more in 12 of the last 13 games.
- Has eclipsed 100 yards in four straight games, five times in the last six games, and six times overall this season (and career).
- Caught a touchdown in each of the first four games to become the first Ivy Leaguer since 2009 with a touchdown reception in four straight games—the second-longest streak in Penn history and tied for the eighth-longest in Ivy history.
- His seven touchdown receptions are tied for sixth-most in a season at Penn.
- His 13 receptions against Princeton are fifth-most in a game in school history.
- Set program’s freshman records for receptions (42) and receiving yards (497) last year.

The Drake
In 138 years, only four players in school history have accumulated more sacks than senior linebacker Tyler Drake, who is now fifth all-time at Penn with 17.5 for his career. He had four sacks against No. 13 Fordham—the most in a game for a Penn player since Steve Lhotak had 4.5 against Harvard on Nov. 15, 2003. He also leads the Ivy League with 8.5 sacks which is the most in a season by a Penn player since Mike Germino had 9.5 in 1999.

Torgersen Trends
Junior quarterback Alek Torgersen has a touchdown pass in 17 of his 19 career games ... He has either passed or rushed for a touchdown in each of the last 15 games he has played ... Has a passing touchdown in 13 of 14 career Ivy games (only one without was against Dartmouth on Oct. 3 when he missed the second half) ... He has passed for 27 touchdowns to just five interceptions in his 14 Ivy League games.

Alek Torgersen needs 321 yards of total offense to move into third-place on the program’s all-time career list; needs 1 touchdown to pass Jimmy McGeehan for fourth on Penn’s all-time career list and 3 to tie Billy Ragone for third; and needs 401 passing yards to become the fourth player at Penn with 5,000 for his career.

Against Ranked Foes
For the first time in school history, Penn has won two road games against Top 25 teams in the one season. Penn snapped a four-game losing streak to ranked opponents with the win at No. 5/4 Villanova, and then lost on a last-second field goal to No. 13/12 Fordham at Franklin Field on Oct. 10, but defeated No. 12/13 Harvard, 35-25, in Cambridge on Nov. 14 to move to 7-19 against teams ranked in the Top 25 since 2000. Prior to that win over the Wildcats, the Red and Blue’s most recent win over a ranked opponent came in the 2012 home finale and Ivy title-clinching win over No. 25 Harvard, 30-21.

For the Quakers, S.O.S may stand for college football’s strength of schedule, or the universal signal for save our souls. Probably both.
• Penn has played four ranked non-league opponents in the last two years—the rest of the Ivy League COMBINED has played four Top 25 non-league opponents in that time (Columbia, 3; Dartmouth, 1).
• Last year, Penn played the 10th-toughest schedule in the FCS. In comparison, Harvard played the 104th-toughest schedule and Brown was 120th (out of 125).
• This season, Penn has played the nation’s third-toughest schedule (toughest in the Ivies), which included a win at No. 5/4 Villanova, a last-second loss to No. 13/12 Fordham, and a win at No. 12/13 Harvard. In comparison, the easiest Ivy schedule belongs to Harvard (111th-toughest schedule to date out of 125).

Nation’s Best
Several Quakers are ranked among the nation’s best: Senior linebacker Tyler Drake ranks ninth in the FCS in sacks, and fourth in the country with four forced fumbles, while junior quarterback Alek Torgersen is No. 3 in the nation with a completion percentage of 69.2, and ranked No. 5 in passing efficiency (164.2). Justin Watson is seventh in the country with 7.2 recpetions per game and sixth in the FCS with 105.4 receiving yards per game.

A Penn Win Today Would...
... clinch the program’s 17th Ivy League title.
... make Coach Priore just the second coach in school history to win the Ivy title in his first season (Ed Zubrow, 1986).
... mark the first six-game win streak since 2010.
... mark the most overall wins in a season (seven) since 2010.
... make the Quakers 7-3 overall and 6-1 in the Ivy League.

A Penn Loss Today Would...
... be the third straight to Cornell at Franklin Field.
... be less good than a win.

Last Week: W, 35-25 at #12/13 Harvard
- One of the best offensive performances in school history launched Penn to a 35-25 win at No. 12/13 Harvard on Saturday and into a tie for first place in the Ivy League.
- On a ferociously windy day, sophomore wide receiver Justin Watson, who was named Ivy League and National FCS Offensive Player of the Week, finished with 249 all-purpose yards—a career-high 149 receiving yards and a career-best 100 yards rushing—to finish just outside the top-five best offensive outputs in the program’s 139-year history. He added a pair of long touchdowns, including the back-breaking 79-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
- Penn led 21-6 after the first quarter but trailed 25-21 at the half. The Quakers scored on their first possession of the third quarter and shut out the top offense in the Ivy League in the second half.
- Penn stopped Harvard’s 22-game winning streak and 16-game Ivy streak. As a result, Penn still holds the Ivy League records for consecutive overall wins (24) and Ivy wins (20).

Up Next
Hopefully, a postgame celebration, and the arrival of the Ivy League trophy this offseason.


Download: 10 - Cornell.pdf