PHILADELPHIA -Penn’s season-opening matchup at Jacksonville (1-1, 1-0 Pioneer) will mark the program’s first flight out of the Northeast since the 2004 season opened at San Diego. Saturday’s matchup is also the start of legendary head coach Al Bagnoli’s 23rd and final season at the helm of the Quakers. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. from newly-renovated Milne Field.
The Penn-Jacksonville Series: First Meeting
This will be the first all-time meeting on the gridiron between the Quakers and the Dolphins. The Quakers are 3-0 all-time against the Pioneer League, including a 2-0 mark against Davidson, who they last played 1985, and a 61-18 win over San Diego in the season opener a decade ago (Sept. 18, 2004).
This will be Penn’s first-ever game in the state of Florida and the furthest south the program has ever played. Prior to Saturday, Penn’s furthest trip past the Mason-Dixon line was to Atlanta, Ga., nearly 100 years ago. The Quakers lost at Georgia Tech (41-0) on Oct. 6, 1917. That served as one of two losses for the 1917 Quakers, who finished 9-2.
Let the Games Begin
Today marks the 138th season opener for Penn. The Quakers have been superb in openers, with an all-time record of 103-33-1 (.755). Under the longest-tenured head coach in team history—Al Bagnoli—Penn is 13-9 in the first game of the year, but haven’t won back-to-back season openers since six straight wins between 2001-06. Last year, the Quakers topped Lafayette, 27-21, at Franklin Field.
The first road game of the year hasn’t been as kind to the Quakers in recent years. Penn has lost its first game on the road in each of the last seven seasons. The last time the Quakers won their road opener was in the 2006 season opener at 22nd-ranked Lafayette, 21-11.
Last to Start
As is the annual tradition, Penn will be among the last Division I teams to kick off its season. Every other Division I program has either played a game or is currently playing. The Ivy League is the last to begin play, and this season, the only teams to kick off later than the Quakers are Princeton (4 p.m.) and Dartmouth (7 p.m.).
First In Flight
For the first time since 2010, the Quakers will head to the Philadelphia International Airport. Penn’s last flight was on the return trip from Dartmouth after a night game in Hanover, N.H. The last time the Quakers took a full round-trip flight was in 2004 for a contest at San Diego (Penn won, 61-18).
Senior Conner Scott already ranks among the top 10 in school history in receptions and receiving yards. Scott led the Quakers in both categories last year (38 catches for 458 yards) and became the ninth Penn player with 100 career receptions and the 17th Quaker to surpass 1,000 career receiving yards. This season, Scott will continue to climb the school record books in both categories. He is 21 receptions for Penn’s all-time top five and 360 yards away from the same spot in that category. He will also have a shot at becoming the fifth player in school history to reach 2,000 career receiving yards.
Bagnoli Set to Retire
Al Bagnoli, who has served as the George A. Munger Head Coach of Football at the University of Pennsylvania since 1992, announced on April 23 that he will retire from the position following the 2014 season. Effective December 1, the head coaching duties will transfer to the Quakers’ current defensive coordinator, Ray Priore, who is entering his 28th season along the Franklin Field sidelines in 2014.
Inside Bagnoli’s Numbers
In his 23rd season, Penn Head Coach Al Bagnoli already holds the all-time record with nine outright Ivy titles. He is second all-time with his nine Ivy titles overall, one behind Yale’s Carmen Cozza, who coached for 30 seasons. Bagnoli is the second-winningest head coach in Ivy League history. Only one man has won more games at an Ivy school than his 146 career wins at Penn (Cozza, 179) and in 152 games versus Ivy opponents, Bagnoli’s Quakers have won 110 of them (second-most all-time behind Cozza’s 135). Bagnoli’s record also amounts to a winning percentage of .724—second-highest of all-time since the inception of the league in 1956 (Princeton’s Dick Colman was 61-23 for a .726 winning percentage).
In 22 years under Bagnoli, the Quakers have had just two losing campaigns (4-6 in 2007 and 2013). In fact, Penn has won at least six games in 15 of his 22 years at the helm, including six perfect Ivy seasons and three overall unbeaten seasons.
Eighth Straight Season on National TV
Penn will be featured on national television for the eight consecutive year this season. The Quakers can be seen on Fox College Sports at Dartmouth (Oct. 4), and as the “Ivy League Game of the Week” on NBC Sports at Yale (Oct. 25) and at Princeton (Nov. 8). Over the previous seven years, the Red and Blue have been featured nationally 16 times, including 10 games on VERSUS/NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and two on Fox College Sports (FCS). This will also mark the fifth consecutive season the Quakers have had multiple national TV appearances.
Following back-to-back first-team All-Ivy campaigns senior Dan Davis earned a preseason third-team All-America selection from The Sports Network and was also named to the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) watch list for the 2014 CFPA Linebacker Award, given to the top individual linebacker in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). In addition, senior Ryan O’Malley was placed on the watch list for the 2014 CFPA Tight End Award.
Davis, Jackson, King and Scott Named 2014 Captains
Linebacker Dan Davis, safety Evan Jackson, tight end Mitch King and wide receiver Conner Scott were each named team captains for 2014. Selected by their teammates, the senior quartet has combined for four All-Ivy honors and six Ivy League championship rings.
No program in the history of college football—at any level—has played more games than Penn. Every time they play, the Quakers set an NCAA record. Saturday’s game will be the 1,344th in the Red and Blue’s illustrious history. Penn remains the only program to pass 1,300 games, hitting that mark on Oct. 31, 2009 in an overtime win at Brown. Yale is second all-time with 1,291 games played. Congrats on being a part of an NCAA record!
A Penn Win Today Would…
... mark back-to-back season-opening wins for the first time since 2001-06.
... snap a seven-year losing streak in road openers (2006 at #22 Lafayette).
... snap a four-game losing streak dating back to last season.
... improve the Quakers to 104-33-1 in season openers.
... make the Quakers 1-0 all-time in the state of Florida.
A Penn Loss Today Would…
... be the first-ever to a Pioneer League opponent.
... be the sixth in the last seven contests against non-league opponents.
... register as the first five-game losing streak in the Al Bagnoli era.
... be less good than a win.
Last Time Out: L, 42-41 vs. Cornell
In an effort to avoid just the second losing season in Al Bagnoli’s tenure, the Quakers watched Cornell build a big lead before mounting a furious rally. But it would ultimately be blocked at the most inopportune time in a 42-41 loss that capped the 2013 season at Franklin Field.
A challenging season opener awaits the Quakers as they take on cross-city rival Villanova in another edition of the Schuylkill Showdown at Franklin Field. Kickoff is at 3 p.m.