Columbia Is 6-0 And The Surprise Team In The Ivy League
Columbia has started this season 6-0 and is in the running for their first Ivy League title since 1961.
Before the 2017 season, there was much optimism for the Columbia University football team. With five losses in 2016 by ten points or less, the Lions hoped to turn those close losses into close wins. There was no doubt that Columbia could end up as the surprise of the Ivy League.
After six games, it is easy to say that no one expected what has transpired this season.
Columbia is 6-0 to start a season for the first time since 1996. They are in sole possession of first place in the Ivy League for the first time in the program’s history. Their 22-17 win over Dartmouth last weekend gave the Lions their first seven-game winning streak (dating back to last season) since 1934-1935 and their first 3-0 Ivy League start since 1996.
It was not unthinkable that Columbia would improve on their 3-8 record from 2016. They returned 13 starters and 61 letterwinners to a team that lacked experience. No one could have ever expected that the Lions would receive votes in the STATS FCS Top 25 Poll and have a legitimate chance of winning the Ivy League for the first time since 1961.
For Columbia, the story has been their offense. Currently ranked third in the Ivy League averaging 400 yards of total offense, the unit is led by senior Anders Hill. The senior quarterback has over 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns through Columbia’s six games this season. Columbia also has a two-pronged rushing attack with both Tanner Thomas and Chris Schroer carrying the load for the Lions.
One of the most significant revelation this season has been freshman Josh Bean. Bean has seven rushing touchdowns and has become a short yardage weapon for head coach Al Bagnoli. Add in career seasons from receivers Josh Wainwright and Ronald Smith III and the Lions’ offense is one of the most dangerous in the country.
While the Lions’ defense has allowed 342 yards per contest this season, the unit has a knack for getting turnovers. They rank second in the Ivy League in interceptions (seven) and defensively efficiency. Columbia leads the league in allowing opponents to convert just 25 percent of their third downs.
Before the start of the season, Bagnoli had this to say about his team:
“We’re cautiously optimistic. We have enough pieces in place where if we play well, we’re capable of beating everybody and at the same time we’re fragile enough as a program where if we don’t play well, everyone can beat us.”
The cautious optimism has proven to be the right strategy as Columbia continues to surprise many around the Ivy League. The Lions’ dream season continues on Saturday as they travel to New Haven, Conn. to face Yale. Game time is 1 p.m.