Friday, September 19, 2014
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Crunchy Numbers Week 4: Déja vu at Penn?

The Quakers may have taken another page from Villanova's playbook.

Crunchy Numbers Week 4: Déja vu at Penn?

Okay, let's see here. We have on our hands a local I-AA football team that played at Franklin Field on Sept. 19, employs a spread-option offense and is using two quarterbacks at the moment.

Yes, that description now applies to Penn as well as Villanova.

I wasn't in Easton this past weekend for the Quakers' 20-17 overtime loss to Lafayette. But Penn starter Keiffer Garton has a sore shoulder at the moment, which meant that Kyle Olson took most of the snaps under center against the Leopards.

"We didn't want to jeopardize ourselves and put Keiffer in harm's way, so he played very limited snaps," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said on the league's weekly conference call this morning. "Hopefully that will mean he's 100 percent this week."

Given those words, it sounds like Garton is still the starter. From the tone of Bagnoli's voice, it sounds like he meant it too.

But reading the accounts of Saturday's game, it's impossible to ignore Olson's two touchdowns and 151 passing yards as Penn rallied from 17-3 down to force overtime.

Which leads me to think that Penn is starting to bear even more resemblance to Villanova.

Andy Talley has spent plenty of time over the last few seasons deflecting questions about whether his team's chemistry has been affected by using two quarterbacks. Things have worked so far, but the system's critics are still talking.

Statistically, it looks like things worked well enough for Penn against Lafayette. The Quakers racked up 290 yards of total offense that were pretty evenly spread between the ground and the air, and committed only one turnover.

But the stakes will be higher in this coming Saturday's Ivy League opener at Dartmouth, which strikes me as a classic trap game. Yes, the Big Green were a perfect 0-10 last season, and are 0-2 so far this year. But losing to Colgate and New Hampshire is no great sin.

Factor in the marathon bus rise from Philadelphia to Hanover - just because the jersey says Penn doesn't mean they spend like Wharton - and the fact that Dartmouth has stability under center with Alex Jenny, and I just can't help wondering.

I put the trap game question to Bagnoli this morning, and his answer was "I hope not."

"We're disappointed with our start - we played two very good teams, and we had chances to win in both games and weren't able to do that," he said. "I think our kids are hungry to play well and finish an opponent off and show people that we're the team we're capable of being. We haven't shown it yet."

On the whole, Penn should win the game. This isn't like Iowa-Penn State last week, or even the reverse game last year at Kinnick Stadium. But nor should it be taken lightly. After all, Penn lost in Hanover on its last trip there two years ago.

It's worth noting that Penn-Dartmouth and Villanova-William and Mary will be televised back-to-back on Versus, at 12:00 and 3:30 p.m. respectively. We'll discuss the big national games later in the week, but you might consider keeping that in mind as you plan your Saturday.


We turn now to this week's Division I roundup, and I suspect we all know what's coming. I'm not a fan of using a purely statistical approach to sports, but we have to give Sagarin credit for calling the upset in State College.

23. Penn State (32)

Last week: Home loss vs. No. 7/5 Iowa, 21-10
This week: 10/3 at No. 85 Illinois, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
Sagarin predicts: Penn State by 10 (81.72 to 68.70 and 3)

54. Rutgers (68)
Last week: Road win vs. No. 98/86 Maryland, 34-13
This week: No game

83. Villanova (82)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 215/196 Northeastern, 56-7
This week: 10/3 vs. No. 82 William & Mary, 3:30 p.m. (Versus)
Sagarin predicts: Villanova by 3 (66.78 and 3 to 67.15)

109. Temple (125)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 106/127 Buffalo, 37-13
This week: 10/3 at No. 159 Eastern Michigan, 1:00 p.m.
Sagarin predicts: Temple by 6 (61.45 to 52.91 and 3)

Note that the radio broadcast will be on WHAT 1340-AM, not the previously scheduled WPHT 1210-AM.

120. Delaware (121)
Last week: Road loss vs. No. 80/82 William & Mary, 30-20
This week: 10/3 at No. 156 Maine, 6:00 p.m.
Sagarin predicts: Delaware by 4 (60.32 to 53.36 and 3)

162. Lafayette (175)
Last week: Home win vs. No. 156/164 Penn, 20-17 (OT)
This week: 10/3 at No. 167 Yale, 12:00 p.m. (RCN-4 or RCN-8, WBPH-60, tape-delayed on MASN)
Sagarin predicts: Yale by 2 (51.00 and 3 to 51.86)

164. Penn (156)
Last week: Road loss vs. No. 175/162 Lafayette, 20-17 (OT)
This week: 10/3 at No. 209 Dartmouth, 12:00 p.m. (Versus)
Sagarin predicts: Penn by 7 (51.65 minus 41.63 and 3)

179. Princeton (176)
Last week: Road win vs. No. 174/186 Lehigh, 17-14
This week: 10/3 vs. No. 201 Columbia, 3:00 p.m. (FiOS1)
Sagarin predicts: Princeton by 9 (48.34 and 3 to 42.34)

186. Lehigh (174)
Last week: Home loss vs. No. 176/179 Princeton, 17-14
This week: 10/3 vs. No. 151 Harvard, 12:30 p.m. (Service Electric 2, tape-delayed on Fox College Sports)
Sagarin predicts: Harvard by 4 (53.94 to 47.00 and 3)

184. Delaware State (183)
Last week: Road win vs. No. 184/207 Hampton, 21-6
This week: No game

223. Bucknell (234)
Last week: Home vs. No. 238/237 Marist, 17-16
This week: 10/3 vs. No. 232 Georgetown, 1:00 p.m.
Sagarin predicts: Bucknell by 9 (36.34 and 3 to 30.42)

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is Philly.com's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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