The football team will look to break Penn's 18-game Ivy winning streak — currently the second-longest streak in Ivy League history — tomorrow at Brown Stadium. Though the Quakers (4-2, 3-0 Ivy) are two-time defending Ivy League champions and are currently tied with Harvard for first place, the Bears (5-1, 2-1) are doing anything but quaking under the pressure.
"We're not getting all amped up to play Penn," said wide receiver Jimmy Saros '12. "We're not focusing on what they've done in the past or what they've done this year — we're focusing on what we need to do."
Brown's defense will again be put to the test against a potent offense. Penn's offense is averaging over 25 points per game, but the Bears' defense ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense and has surrendered an average of 17 points per game to their opponents.
But the Quakers have shown resiliency and the ability to execute in high-pressure situations in all three of their conference games this year. Penn has mounted a comeback each game to keep its Ivy string of victories intact. Against Dartmouth (2-4, 1-2), Penn scored a touchdown with 17 seconds left to defeat the Big Green 22-20 in its league opener, and against Columbia (0-6, 0-3), found the end zone with 25 seconds left in the game for a 27-20 victory. Last week, the Quakers exploded for 27 points in the fourth quarter to come from behind and beat Yale (3-3, 2-1) 37-25. Yale and Brown are currently tied for third place in the league.
"We know that they're a confident team," said outside linebacker Daniel Smithwick '12. "They're not going to be afraid of anyone they face. It's something that we're going to be ready for. We're kind of similar in that respect — we're not backing off anyone, either."
Smithwick, who leads the Bears' defense with 52 tackles and two interceptions, said Penn is very athletic and has plenty of weapons on offense. One such weapon is running back Brandon Colavita, who averages over 100 yards rushing per game. In contrast, Bruno's leading rusher, John Spooney '14, averages 66 yards per game. Last week in a 35-24 win over Cornell (2-4, 0-3), Spooney ran for 156 yards, which was the first time since 2009 that a Bear rushed for over 100 yards in a game. But Spooney suffered a concussion on his last carry of the game, and his status against Penn is questionable. Brown's second leading rusher, Mark Kachmer '13, left the Cornell game early, but Head Coach Phil Estes said he will be good to go tomorrow.
Estes said Penn quarterback Billy Ragone is a threat both through the air and on the ground. Ragone has thrown for five touchdowns and an average of 188.5 yards per game this year. But Bears quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11.5 is currently the top passer in the Ivy League, averaging 22.7 completions per game. This year, he has thrown for an average of 246.3 yards per game and 11 touchdowns. Against Cornell, Newhall-Caballero had a four-touchdown day, throwing for two scores and rushing for another two.
Newhall-Caballero also has plenty of athletic targets at his disposal. Tellef Lundevall '13 has been a favorite target this year, hauling in 34 passes and averaging over 10 yards per gain. Saros, who was Newhall-Caballero's go-to receiver in last week's win, has caught 28 passes this season, two for touchdowns.
"This year we're going to be a lot more ready for some of the things they're going to do against us," Saros said. "Seeing them on film, we can take advantage of them offensively."
On the other side of the ball, Smithwick said the defense has been solid this year and added that they are looking forward to the challenge of containing Penn's attack. The defensive line has been a wall this year — last week against Cornell, six different Bears recorded sacks. The week before, Bruno's defense blanked Princeton (1-5, 1-2) 34-0 in Brown's first shutout since 1990.
"We've faced some really solid teams this year. We've seen a lot of different types of attacks," Smithwick said. "We feel like we're definitely ready for what we're going to see on Saturday."
Like all Ivy games, this weekend's is vital. If the Bears lose, it will almost certainly knock them out of the race for the Ivy crown with only three games left on the schedule.
"We're just trying to be one point better than them, to just get another win in the win column," Smithwick said.
Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. at Brown Stadium.