The Stage is Set

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The Stage is Set

Waiting for Superman? He's already here! (Credit: Columbia Spectator)

All systems seem to be “go” for what is shaping up to be one of the most important Columbia football game in a very long time.

The Lions are riding high into Philadelphia for a showdown with the Penn Quakers at Franklin Field this Saturday.

Columbia hasn’t defeated Penn since 1996, (that’s 13 straight losses folks), when the Lions edged the Quakers 20-19 in OT in Philly.

But this game is about more than just revenge, or getting over a mental hump.

This game is about grabbing the inside track to the Ivy title, which arguably is up for grabs. And that is what’s really important here.

Look, this blog is all about history… almost all the time. But I realize to these young men on the Lion football team right now, the past is not their responsibility. These guys want to make their own history, and they are already.

Let’s just talk about the history Sean Brackett is making:

-Brackett already has five wins under his belt as a Columbia starter. That’s more than any Columbia starter since Jeff Otis ’05, who finished his career with five wins. His overall record as a starter is 5-3.

-Not only has Brackett achieved this less than halfway through his sophomore year, but he’s done it before his 19th birthday. #10 is 18 until November.

-Going beyond raw stats, consider what Brackett brings to the football-watching experience. Yes, he has a great arm and can run. But it’s actually a joy to watch him go through his reads, make a good decision, and then commit to it. He actually makes people watching him smarter about football. You don’t have to be a Columbia fan to realize it. I DVR’d the Lafayette broadcast of the game on ESPN GamePlan, and the Leopard announcers got more and more excited about Brackett as the game went on.

(Speaking of the Lafayette broadcasters and writers, I’d like to give them kudos for the great and evenhanded job they did all week leading up to the game and postgame as well. Do yourselves a favor and read Paul Reinhard’s many pieces about the game, especially this one. )

Keeping Mike on the Field

Look closely at the picture above.

That’s WR Nico Gutierrez wearing injured teammate and team captain Mike Stephens’ initials on his wristband.

Nico is just one of the many Lions trying to make sure Stephens is not forgotten despite his season-ending injury in the week one loss against Fordham.

Stephens is actually helping WR coach Aaron Smith develop the receivers and is giving as much as he can to the team from the sidelines.

This reminds me of the great gesture by Austin Knowlin last season when he came out for the Yale game wearing Ray Rangel’s #4 after Rangel had been lost for the season in the Dartmouth game the week before.

Nitpicking… I Admit

Getting back to history, you’ll see a lot of news releases this week saying Columbia is enjoying its first three game winning streak since 1997.

That’s technically correct, because the 2nd “win” in that streak was a game Penn had to forfeit at the end of the season because of a blatantly ineligible player, (Mitch Marrow).

But that feels like revisionist history.

This is really the best streak since the 1996 team began the year 6-0.


1. Penn (#2 last week)

The Quakers are looking iffy on offense, and super strong on defense. Just like last year, when they went 7-0 in the Ivies and won the title.

2. Columbia (3)

The Lions offense behind Brackett seems almost unstoppable. The defense had its roughest day of the season, but Lafayette’s offense came in ready to play.

3. Brown (1)

The Bears are in trouble without Kyle Newhall Caballero for the rest of the season. But they still have the tools to win this whole thing.

4. Harvard (4)

Is Hatch coming back? Even if he doesn’t, the Crimson can run the ball and play great defense. Not a bad combo.

5. Yale (6)

You have to respect the Elis 2-0 league record. But this is still a team that lost at home to Albany. If they beat Fordham this Saturday, I’ll give them an upgrade.

6. Dartmouth (5)

The Big Green really needed to beat Yale to prove they are for real. They didn’t.

7. Cornell (8)

Decent first half performance boosts the Big Red up a notch.

8. Princeton (7)

It’s hard to find any positives right now.

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