No. 15 Football Prepares for Throwback Bucknell Offense

Penn has a 15-game Franklin Field and nine-game winning streak entering its final non-league meeting of the season.

Oct. 7, 2003

BLIND DATE
Penn and Bucknell will reacquaint themselves after a five-year series hiatus as the Red and Blue close out the non-Ivy portion of their 2003 slate with the Bison at Franklin Field this weekend.

A lot has changed since the last time these two programs met on the gridiron as Penn has won two Ancient Eight crowns and compiled a mark of 28-9 since falling to Bucknell on Oct. 2, 1999. The Bison have gone 17-21 since that victory and are now under their third head coach.

No. 15 Penn won its ninth-straight contest and began its Ivy title defense with a 33-20 victory at Dartmouth last weekend. Meanwhile, Bucknell knocked off No. 14 Fordham on the road, 31- 10, to halt a two-game losing skid.

Both of Bucknell's losses this season have been to Ivy opponents on the road (Cornell and Columbia), while Penn has scored five-straight decisions over Patriot League teams. The Red and Blue enter the contest with the nation's second-ranked rush defense, surrendering just 69.0 yards per game on the ground. By contrast, Bucknell is averaging 284.4 yards per game rushing (sixth-ranked in I-AA).

IT'S BEEN AWHILE
Five years to be exact since Penn and Bucknell last met on the college gridiron. This series can trace its roots all the way back to 1895, however the two intra-state programs have only played one another 28 times (six since Al Bagnoli has been at the helm of the Red and Blue). The Quakers won 22 of the series first 25 games with Bucknell taking two of the last three including the last meeting, a 23-16 decision at Franklin Field on Oct. 2, 1999.

UNDISPUTED
While Penn held steady at No. 15 in the Sports Network/CSTV I-AA poll after defeating Dartmouth on Oct. 4, the Quakers jumped two spots in the USA Today/ESPN I-AA poll to No. 15. It is the first time since Oct. 1, 2002 that the Red and Blue held an identical ranking in both polls - No. 23.

THREE-AND-0
Penn ran 52 plays and accumulated 336 yards of offense in the first half alone to build a 19-0 halftime lead en route to its third-straight victory at Memorial Field and sixth-straight win over Dartmouth, 33-20. It was the greatest margin of victory for the Quakers at Memorial Field since topping the Big Green, 16-6, in 1990.

HOME SWEET HOME
When Penn returns to Franklin Field this week-end it will attempt to extend the nation's longest home winning streak. The Red and Blue improved their current streak to 15 games at Franklin Field with their week one victory over Duquesne. The Quakers' current 15-game streak at home is the fifth-longest in program history and 14th-longest in I-AA history (since 1978).

THE IVIES BEST
For the second-straight week, junior wide receiver Dan Castles earned a weekly nod from the Ivy League, earning a spot on the Honor Roll after pulling down 10 passes for one touchdown and a new career-high 157 yards. Last week, Castles hauled in 12 passes for three touchdowns and a then-career best 153 yards to earn Ivy Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Joining Castles on the Ivy Honor Roll this week is junior corner Duvol Thompson, who earned his first Ancient Eight accolade, after recording a career-high nine tackles (eight solo) and breaking up a potential touchdown pass to Dartmouth's Jay Barnard in the second half as Penn protected a 12-0 lead.