A victory over Harvard will give Penn outright claim to 2003 Ivy crown.
Nov. 12, 2003
Date: November 15, 2003
Kickoff Time: 12:30 p.m.
Stadium: Harvard Stadium (Grass/30,323)
Location: Cambridge, Mass.
TV: CN8 with Ed Berliner and Bob Norton and on the Internet www.cn8.tv
Radio/Internet: Quakers' Flagship WVCH 740 AM and www.pennathletics.com;
THE GRUDGE MATCH
"There is no settling with Penn Football." These seven words spoken by senior captain Steve Lhotak perfectly describe the Red and Blue's outlook as they head into a week-nine showdown with Harvard in Cambridge, Mass.
Although by virtue of their 37-7 victory over Princeton last Saturday, and coupled with Yale and Harvard defeats, the Quakers clinched at least a share of their second-straight Ivy League crown (becoming the first Ancient Eight team in 10 years to repeat as champions), Penn will not be satisfied with its season unless it can capture an Ivy League record 10th-outright title.
Do not look for Harvard to just lie down for the Red and Blue either. While the Crimson have dropped two-straight games for the first time since the final two weeks of the 2000 campaign, Harvard can keep its Ivy championship hopes alive with a victory over the Quakers, who have won 14-straight games (second-longest streak in I or I-AA) as well as 13-straight Ancient Eight contests.
Offering even more drama is the fact that the last two times Penn and Harvard have met, a share of the Ivy League banner was at stake as both programs came into the 2001 and 2002 meetings with identical 5-0 Ancient Eight marks. The Crimson defeated the Quakers, 28-21, at Harvard Stadium en route to a perfect Ivy season and 9-0 mark two years ago, while last season the Red and Blue rolled to a 44-9 victory at Franklin Field in an eventual-perfect Ivy campaign and 9-1 finish.
Penn moved into uncharted grounds in the Sports Network/CSTV I-AA poll this week, jumping one spot to eighth place - the highest the Quakers or an Ivy League team has ever been ranked in the poll. The Red and Blue's top I-AA position in program history came in 1986 when Penn was tabbed seventh in the NCAA postseason poll. Penn also moved into the Top 10 in the USA Today/ESPN poll, improving two positions to ninth this week.
THE PENN ADVANTAGE
While the Red and Blue extended I-AA's longest home-winning streak to 18 games at Franklin Field last Saturday with a win over Princeton, the Quakers also possess a seven-game road-winning streak, the program's longest since winning 11-consecutive games away from Philadelphia during Penn's I-AA-record 24-game winning streak (Nov. 21, 1992 to Sept. 23, 1995). The Red and Blue's current home streak is 11th all-time in I-AA history and fifth all-time in program history.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
The Red and Blue offense and defense operated at a fevered pitch against Princeton in front of a rabid homecoming crowd of 21,060 at Franklin Field as Penn built a 30-0 halftime lead, scoring on its first four possessions. The defense forced five Tigers turnovers, including four in the first half, and held a potent Princeton offense to just 13 first downs. When the smoke cleared, the Red and Blue improved to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Ivy League, with relative ease.
OF SPECIAL NOTE
Peter Veldman became the third member of the Red and Blue this season to earn the Ivy League's Special Team's Player of the Week award after converting all seven kicking-point attempts against Princeton (including three field goals). Teammates Steve Lhotak and Sam Mathews were also recognized by the Ivy League for their performances against Princeton, as each player earned a spot on the League's weekly Honor Roll (the fifth-straight selection for Mathews).
Two weeks after becoming the first Penn running back since Jim Finn to post five-straight 100-yard rushing performances, Red and Blue sophomore Sam Mathews is now closing in on Finn's single-season rushing record of 1,450 yards. Mathews has rushed for 1,079 yards this season, and needs to average 186 yards over the Quakers final two games to break the mark.