Columbia (1-3, 0-1) at Penn (2-2, 1-0)
Franklin Field, Philadelphia
Saturday, 3 p.m.
Welcome back, Al Bagnoli.
In a game that many Penn people have probably been looking forward to for a while, the former Quaker football coach returns to Franklin Field for the first time as a visiting coach. Here’s a look at the matchup.
The Quakers won their second straight game last week, knocking off Central Connecticut State, 28-16, behind two passing touchdowns and one rushing TD from quarterback Alek Torgersen. Running back Tre Solomon had another good game with 114 rushing yards and a touchdown, while standout receiver Justin Watson had a team-high nine catches for 84 yards. Solomon leads the Ivy League in rushing while Watson is second in receptions per game and third in receiving yards. Penn’s defense remains near the bottom of the Ivies statistically but held CCSU to just 22 rushing yards last week with Louis Vecchio finishing with six tackles, one sack, 2.5 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. For the season, linebacker Colton Moskal ranks third in the league in tackles with 9.2 per game.
After three straight losses, Columbia won its first game of the season with a 15-13 victory over Wagner last week. The Lions managed to win on the strength of a school-record five field goals from freshman Oren Milstein, a career-high 107 rushing yards from senior Alan Watson, and a defense that allowed zero points, three first downs and 63 yards in the second half. Gianmarco Rea, the Ivy League’s leading tackler (11.2 per game) led the defense with a sack and 10 tackles. As a team, Columbia ranks third in the Ivies in total defense and scoring defense. But the Lions’ offense is one of the worst in the country, ranking 117th out of 122 teams in scoring (12.8 points per game) and 108th in total yards (285.8 per game).
It’s been quite the one-sided series with Penn owning a 73-21-1 edge all-time edge and winning 19 in a row. In their first matchup against Bagnoli last year, the Quakers stormed to a 42-7 win.
Storyline to watch
The Penn players and coaching staff are trying their best not to make a big deal of it but it’s hard to ignore Bagnoli returning to the place where he won a record nine Ivy League titles in 23 years. It will also be interesting to see how the Penn players and fans react. It’s unlikely he’ll be treated as a conquering hero since he retired from coaching after the 2014 season and took an administrative job at Penn before shocking everyone and bolting for Columbia. But considering all he did for the Quakers, he’ll probably get a nice reception — until the game starts.
What’s at stake?
On top of getting the satisfaction of beating their old coach, the Quakers need a win to keep place with Harvard and Princeton atop the Ivy League.
Bagnoli’s return probably won’t be too pleasant for him.
Penn 28, Columbia 10