A tie was broken Saturday afternoon between Ohio State and Harvard. The Buckeyes, winners of 23 straight games after pulling away from Illinois, now own the nation’s longest active winning streak in college football after previously being tied with the traditional power of the Ivy League.
Harvard was upset at home in Cambridge by the Penn Quakers. Harvard, like Ohio State, had started the day winners of 22 straight games dating back to 2013. Remember, Ivy League teams do not participate in the FCS playoffs (which is silly), so Harvard has been able to end the season with a win each of the past two seasons with nothing more to show for it than a pair of Ivy League titles (which, of course, isn’t all that bad). Before yesterday, the last time Harvard lost was October 26, 2013 against Princeton.
Penn took an early 21-6 lead on the Crimson, but the Quakers needed a second-half rally after Harvard took a 25-21 lead into halftime. Penn outscored Harvard 14-0 in the second half to leave with a win, their second win of the season against a top 25 team in the FCS. Penn opened the season with a win against No. 4 Villanova. This marks the first time in Penn’s history the Quakers beat two FCS top 25 teams on the road in the same season. The last time Penn beat two ranked FCS teams in the same season was 2006 (No. 22 Lafayette, No. 17 Harvard). The Ivy League is now a three-team race between Harvard, Dartmouth and Penn. Each is 5-1 heading into the final week of Ivy League play.
Meanwhile, in Columbus, Urban Meyer continues to roll in regular season games with the Buckeyes. Only three head coaches since 1936 have had more seasons with 10-0 starts than Meyer; Paul “Bear” Bryant (9), Joe Paterno (8) and Tom Osborne (7). Meyer has had five 10-0 seasons, which equals the number accomplished by Bobby Bowden and Bud Wilkinson. Those are some really good names to be sitting alongside for Meyer.
College football’s history and tradition owes much to the Ivy League. A league known for dominant national powers has since been left behind in terms of competition on the football field, but few leagues carry the kind of rich tradition the Ivy League still has. On Saturday afternoon one of college football’s best rivalries will play out for the 130th time in the history of the game when Harvard and Yale play The Game.
Harvard is going for their seventh straight victory in the rivalry. The Crimson have won 11 of the last 12 against Yale as the two football programs have gone separate ways since the turn of the decade. The Game bring a sense of good-natured rivalry that the bigger programs and fans may have lost a bit of over the course of time. Each year’s meeting is ushered in with a fun prank or two at the other school’s expense. Sometimes MIT even likes to get involved in the fun.
Yale may own the overall series edge against Harvard, but the Crimson are going for their seventh straight win against their Ivy League rivals Saturday afternoon (12 p.m. eastern on NBC Sports Network). The Ivy League title may not be on the line (Princeton) but a year’s worth of bragging rights between these Ivy League schools may really mean more to the fans and alums of the prestigious universities.
Of course, even with a win Harvard will see their season come to an end Saturday afternoon even with a record of 9-1. The Ivy League does not send their football teams to the playoffs. The FCS playoff field will be announced on Sunday, but Harvard and Princeton will once again be on the outside forever looking in due to the Ivy League’s ridiculous rules regarding postseason competition. The FCS playoffs generally take place over the final terms of Ivy League programs, but how many schools do not have the same problem?
Perhaps some day the Ivy League will have a change of heart on this postseason rule. After all, every other sport is eligible to participate in the postseason, so why isn’t football?
I, for one, would love to see how an Ivy League school would do in the FCS playoffs.