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Football Preview: Brown Bears vs. Penn Quakers

Ivy League’s top offenses set to square off on national stage Friday

Courtesy of Chip De Lorenzo via Brown Athletics

In last year’s showdown between the two rivals, Brown claimed a stunning comeback victory to spoil Penn’s then-undefeated record.
Courtesy of Chip De Lorenzo via Brown Athletics In last year’s showdown between the two rivals, Brown claimed a stunning comeback victory to spoil Penn’s then-undefeated record.

On Friday at 7 p.m., the football team (3-3, 1-2 Ivy) will face off against the Penn Quakers (5-1, 2-1 Ivy) in Philadelphia for a nationally televised game on ESPNU. Here’s what you need to know:

Recent Results:

The Bears fell 36-14 to Cornell last Saturday, tied for their worst loss of the season. The team found themselves trailing 33-0 in the third quarter and were outgained 434 yards to 298, allowing a season-high three interceptions.

In their previous game on family weekend, the Bears took a thrilling victory over Princeton. Caleb Moorhead ’25, who made a critical play by blocking a PAT attempt in overtime, earned co-Ivy League Player of the Week honors with receiver Mark Mahoney ’24.

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Penn’s 5-1 overall record ties Harvard for the best in the Ivy League. The Quakers are riding a three-game win streak, with victories against Georgetown, Columbia and Yale. Their sole loss came on Sept. 30, when they fell in overtime against Dartmouth to open Ivy Play. Last season, Penn tied for second place in Ivy standings.

Statistical Storyline:

The match-up pits the Ivy League’s top two offenses — and two of the FCS’s best passing offenses — against each other. Brown leads the Ivy League in total offense with an average of 425.8 yards per game, while Penn ranks second with 399.2. 

The game appears likely to be a battle of quarterbacks: Bears quarterback Jake Willcox ’24 and Quakers quarterback Aidan Sayin rank first and second in the Ivy League in passing yards per game. Penn wide-out Jared Richardson and Brown wide receiver Wes Rockett ’23.5 lead the Ivy League in receiving yards per game by a large margin — with no other player coming within 20 yards of their averages. Meanwhile, Brown and Penn’s rushing offenses have been the two least productive in the Ivy League, averaging fewer than 100 yards per game.

The major statistical separation between the two teams comes on the defensive end. While the Quakers rank second in the league in total defense with 265.3 yards allowed per game, the Bears rank dead last with 404.8, on track to record their sixth consecutive season with the league’s least successful defense.

Rivalry History:
In last year’s showdown, Brown claimed a stunning comeback victory to spoil Penn’s then-undefeated record. Aidan Gilman ’23 earned Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors after taking over for starting quarterback Jake Willcox ’24, who was removed during the game with an injury. Memories of the loss have provided the Quakers with extra motivation entering Friday’s highly anticipated contest, according to recent coverage by the Daily Pennsylvanian. Historically, the Bears have won just 25 of the 90 match-ups between the two programs since 1895.

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Linus Lawrence

Linus is a sports editor from New York City. He is a junior concentrating in English, and when he's out of The Herald office you can find him rooting for the Mets, watching Star Wars or listening to The Beach Boys.



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