It’s been one throw here, one catch there, that has decided the last two Princeton-Harvard football games. Naturally, a single vote broke the tie between the reigning Ivy co-champions in the 2014 Ivy League Football preseason media poll, announced Tuesday morning during the league’s annual Media Day.
Princeton picked up nine of the 17 first-place votes to land atop the preseason poll for the first time since 1992 and the fifth time in league history. Harvard had the other eight first-place votes and stands second, while Dartmouth, the lone Ivy team to defeat Princeton last season, was picked third.
The final five teams, in order, were Penn, Yale, Brown, Cornell and Columbia.
Princeton, which set Ivy League records in both scoring offense and total offense last season, won its 10th league crown in 2013 with a 6-1 league mark. Nine All-Ivy selections return this season for Princeton, including reigning Offensive Player of the Year Quinn Epperly, who was recently named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List.
Over the last 10 years, only two teams who were picked atop the preseason poll actually went on to win the league, and it never did it as the solo champion. Thus, head coach Bob Surace, who is entering his fifth year at Princeton, isn’t putting much emphasis on the poll.
“We have been very consistent over the past four years in keeping our focus on the preparation necessary to successfully navigate the challenges we face this fall,” Surace said. “Although we appreciate that preseason polls, rankings and honors are an accepted part of college football, we are excited to get back on the field and get to work and compete.”
Princeton will open its season Sept. 20 when it travels to the University of San Diego, and will begin Ivy League play Oct. 4 at Columbia.
- This is the closest vote since 2008 when Harvard and Yale tied for first with eight first-place votes and 124 total points each.
- In the four previous years that Princeton has been picked first, it has won two titles (1964, 1992), finished second (1965) and finished third (1962).
- This is only the second time since 2001 that neither Harvard nor Penn has at least shared first place in the preseason poll. The only other year was 2007, when Yale (coming off a shared title with Princeton) was picked first.
- Last year, Princeton had to play the teams picked first (Harvard), second (Penn), third (Brown) and fourth (Dartmouth) on the road; the Tigers went 3-1 in that stretch. This year, Princeton will host the teams picked second (Harvard), third (Dartmouth) and fourth (Penn).
- Princeton was picked eighth in the preseason poll two years ago, and it remained in the Ivy League championship chase heading into the final Saturday of the season.
- Only one other Ivy League school has been picked eighth in the preseason poll, and then first within two years. Yale was picked eighth in 1998, and then it was picked as co-favorite in 2000.