Saturday, November 11, 2017 | 1:30 p.m. ET
Schoellkopf Field | Ithaca, N.Y.
Cornell (3-5, 3-2 Ivy)
CornellColumbia
Columbia (6-2, 3-2 Ivy)

ITHACA, N.Y.—In a four-way tie for second place in the Ivy League with identical 3-2 league records, Columbia (6-2, 3-2 Ivy League) travels to Ithaca, N.Y. to play Cornell (3-5, 3-2 Ivy League) in a key Empire State Bowl matchup on Saturday, Nov. 11. Kickoff is at 1:35 p.m. ET at Cornell’s Schoellkopf Field.

WHERE TO LISTEN/WATCH

Sportsnet NY (SNY) will televise the game with Jerry Recco (play-by-play) and Sal Licata (color analyst) calling action. Sol Steinberg will handle production. The contest will also be simulcast and live streamed on the Ivy League Network. Jay Alter (play-by-play) and former Columbia football player Shawn FitzGerald (color analyst) will call action on the Columbia Online Radio Network available at www.gocolumbialions.com.

THE STAKES

Two games remain for each of the teams in the 2017 Ivy League football season. Columbia finds itself in a four-way tie for second place in the Ivy League standings. Yale is in first place with a 4-1 record, while Columbia, Cornell, Harvard and Dartmouth all have identical 3-2 league records. In its final two contests, Columbia travels to Cornell and hosts Brown, Cornell hosts Columbia and then travels to Penn, Harvard hosts Penn and then travels to Yale and Dartmouth plays at Brown and hosts Princeton. First-place Yale plays at Princeton and closes out its season by hosting Harvard.

Columbia is in search of its second all-time Ivy League title and first since it was co-champion in 1961.

HISTORY OF THE EMPIRE STATE BOWL

When Columbia and Cornell meet annually on the football field, the rivalry is dubbed the Empire State Bowl. The rivary took on the name “Empire State Bowl” in 2010, emblematic for Ivy League football supremacy in New York State. Each year’s winner earns the right to take home the Empire Cup. The two schools have played on the gridiron since 1889.

COLUMBIA OFF TO BEST START IN IVY LEAGUE PLAY SINCE 1996, LOOKING TO REGISTER FIRST WINNING IVY LEAGUE SEASON SINCE 1996

With a 3-2 Ivy League record, Columbia is off to its best start in Ivy League play since 1996. Columbia also started 3-2 in 1963 and 1971. The Lions started 4-1 in 1961 when it captured its only Ivy League championship in school history.

A win over Cornell would also guarantee Columbia’s first winning season in Ivy League play since 1996. Since the Ivy League was formed in 1956, Columbia has only completed four seasons with a .500 or better record in Ivy League play: 1961 Ivy League Champions (6-1), 1962: 4-3, 1971: 5-2, 1996: 5-2.

COLUMBIA VYING FOR SECOND ALL-TIME IVY LEAGUE TITLE

Columbia has won just one Ivy League championship in program history: 1961. In 1961, Columbia tied for the league title with a 6-1 overall record, defeating all league teams except for Princeton (30-20 loss). Coached by Aldo T. Donelli and led by captain William V. Campbell, Columbia defeated Penn 37-6 on Nov. 18, 1961 to claim a piece of the Lions’ first and only title.

COLUMBIA, LIONS PLAYERS AMONG NATIONAL STATISTICAL LEADERS IN A VARIETY OF CATEGORIES

Through its first eight games, Columbia ranks among the nation’s top-25 FCS teams in 15 different team statistical categories according to the NCAA. Columbia ranks: 

  • No. 4 in blocked kicks (5)
  • No. 6 in time of possession (33:52)
  • No. 6 in third down conversion percentage defense (27.8%)
  • No. 7 in kickoff return defense (17.2)
  • No. 8 in kickoff returns (24.1)
  • No. 8 in fumbles lost (3)
  • No. 9 in first downs defense (136)
  • No. 13 in red zone defense (72%)
  • No. 16 in punt return defense (4.2)
  • No. 19 in third down conversion percentage (43.7%)
  • No. 23 in winning percentage (75%)
  • No. 22 in fewest passes intercepted (12)
  • No. 24 in fewest penalties (49)
  • No. 25 in passing offense (252.9)
  • No. 26 in scoring defense (20.1)

Individually, several Lions also rank among the top-25 national statistical leaders in 13 different categories: 

COLUMBIA HAS FLAIR FOR DRAMATIC WINS

Columbia has shown its resilience and toughness with two comeback wins against Penn and Princeton, two walk-off wins over Penn (34-31 in OT on walk-off TD) and Wagner (17-14 on walk-off field goal) and four victories that were secured in the last two minutes of regulation: Dartmouth, Penn, Princeton and Wagner.

Against Wagner, the Seahawks tied the game at 14-14 and had a chance to go ahead on a field goal, but Columbia blocked the attempt. Columbia gained possession of the ball back and quarterback Anders Hill drove the Lions 54 yards down the field where placekicker Oren Milstein converted a 29-yard field goal as time expired for the win.

Trailing 24-21 with 1:12 to play at Princeton, wide receiver Ronald Smith II caught a pass from Hill and raced 63 yards down the field for the game-winning touchdown. With Princeton driving on its final possession, sophomore Ben McKeighan intercepted his second pass of the day to seal the victory.

Against Penn, the Lions trailed 21-7 in the fourth quarter and used two interceptions to storm back, tie the game at 21-21, then take a lead 28-21 on a Hill pass to tight end Rory Schlageter. Penn sent the game into overtime with a touchdown with 1:21 to play. In overtime and after Columbia’s defense held Penn to a field goal, Hill found Josh Wainwright for a 24-yard touchdown on a third and nine play to give the Lions a 34-31 win.

Already, Hill has led the Lions on three game-winning drives in the early-going this year.

At Dartmouth, Columbia built a 22-7 lead then had to hold off a late Dartmouth comeback. On the last play of the game with Dartmouth threatening score a touchdown at CU’s seven-yard line, Columbia’s Mike Hinton sacked DC’s quarterback and time expired securing a 22-17 Columbia victory.

ABOUT THE LIONS

Columbia begins its final two-game stretch with a 6-2 overall and 3-2 in Ivy League play for the first time since 1996. Columbia finds itself in a four-way tie for second place in the Ivy League upon entering its final two games: at Cornell and home vs. Brown.

Columbia returned 13 starters (seven on offense and six on defense) and 57 lettermen to a youthful and talented team that finished 3-7 overall and tied for a sixth place finish in the Ivy League with a 2-5 mark.

The 2016 Lions concluded their season with a victory at Brown, while five of their seven losses were decided by 10 or fewer points. Three All-Ivy League picks return in sophomore placekicker Oren Milstein, senior defensive back Cameron Roane and senior defensive lineman Lord Hyeamang. Additionally, Columbia returned players who accounted for 88 percent (162 of 185) of its points scored, 82 percent (1,651 of 2,014) of its passing yards, 51 percent (1,037 of 2,014) of its receiving yards, 60 percent (3 of 5) of its starters on the offensive line and 49 percent (333 of 680) of its tackles in 2016.

ABOUT THE BIG RED

Cornell enters Saturday’s game with a 3-5 overall and 3-2 Ivy League record. Cornell has won two of its last three games including a 34-7 win over Brown (Oct. 21) and a 29-28 win at Princeton (Oct. 28). Last week it lost a 10-0 decision at Dartmouth.

Quarterback Dalton Banks leads the Big Red offense as he has completed 156 of his 255 passes for 1,618 yards and five touchdowns. His top targets are James Hubbard (28 catches for 321 yards, TD), Owen Peters (28 catches for 277 yards, TD), Jack Gellatly (24 catches for 153 yards) and Chris Walker (23 receptions for 213 yards, TD). Harold Coles leads the squad in rushing with 331 yards and three touchdowns on 49 carries, while Walker (282 rushing yards on 80 carries, 2 TD) and Gellatly (226 yards on 56 carries) are key contributors in the run game.

On defense, Cornell is led by Reis Seggrebruch, who has made 53 total tackles (30 solo) and has 3.0 sacks and 4.0 tackles for loss. Kurt Frimel leads the Big Red in tackles for loss (9.0) and has made 43 tackles and Nick Gesualdi has contributed 42 tackles and two interceptions.

BAGNOLI IS NATIONAL/IVY LEAGUE COACH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE

Columbia head coach Al Bagnoli is both a National and Ivy League Coach of the Year candidate. After leading the Lions to a 3-7 record in 2016, Bagnoli has Columbia at 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Ivy League heading into its final two contests. The Lions have already clinched a winning season for the first time since 1996. In addition, he has won 11 games in 28 contests at Columbia, faster than any other Lions coach since the Ivy League was formed in 1956.

Turning a program around is nothing new for Bagnoli as he has orchestrated several program turnarounds during his 36-year coaching career. At Union in 1982, he led a program from an 0-10 season to an 8-1 overall record during his first season in 1982, then sustained success throughout his tenure. At Penn, he took control of a Quaker program that went 4-6, 3-7 and 2-8 in the previous three seasons before Bagnoli’s arrival and then went 7-3 (1992), 10-0 (1993) and 9-0 (1994) in his first three years from 1992-94. He went on to win nine Ivy League titles during his tenure with the Quakers.

CORNELL SERIES

Cornell and Columbia meet for the 105th time in series history. Cornell owns a 65-36-3 all-time record vs. Columbia. Cornell has claimed each of the last four meetings dating back to a 34-17 Columbia home win on Nov. 10, 2012. Cornell has won three straight games played in Ithaca dating back to a 30-20 Lions win in 2009.

Last year’s Empire State Bowl contest at Robert K. Kraft Field produced an exciting, high-scoring 42-40 Cornell victory.

PERFECT NON-CONFERENCE RECORD

Columbia completed its three-game non-conference schedule with three consecutive wins for the first time since the 2006 season. The Lions defeated Wagner (17-14), Georgetown (35-14) and Marist (41-17). In addition, Columbia has won four consecutive non-conference games, a streak it will carry over into the 2018 season.

Columbia has completed perfect non-conference seasons only three times since the Ivy League was formed in 1956: 1996, 2006 and now 2017.

THIRD DOWN DOMINANCE

Columbia continues to make plays on third down both on offense and on defense. Offensively, Columbia has converted 55 of its 126 third down conversions (43.7 percent) on the year to rank second in the Ivy League and rank No. 19 nationally in that statistic. On defense, Columbia has limited opponents to a 27.8 percent (27 of 97) conversion rate on third downs, which ranks No. 6 nationally and leads the league by a large margin.

LIONS DOMINATE TIME OF POSSESSION

Columbia has won the time of possession battle in seven of its eight games this year. On the year, Columbia ranks No. 6 nationally and leads the Ivy League in time of possession after maintaining possession for 33:52.

ANDERS HILL LEADS COLUMBIA OFFENSE AT QUARTERBACK

For the second straight year senior Anders Hill is back as Columbia’s starting quarterback. He anchors an offense that improved with every game in 2016 and looks even more polished in 2017. It also marks the second consecutive year that Columbia has employed the same offensive system.

Hill has started 16 consecutive games and in those 16 starts, has guided Columbia to a seven-game win streak and a 9-7 total record as the starter. His seven-game win streak is the longest for a Columbia full-time starting quarterback since Gene Rossides won six straight as the starter from Oct. 25, 1947-Oct. 2, 1948.

Hill has completed 61.9 percent of his passes (166 of 268) for 2,022 yards and 15 touchdowns and ranks third on the Lions in rushing yards with 132 yards on 93 carries and three TDs.

Upon entering into the 2017 season, most impressive and most memorable is what Hill accomplished over Columbia’s final three games of the 2016 season against Harvard, Cornell and Brown. The three-game span saw him complete 60 percent (49 of 82) of his passes for 616 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions.

In his career, Hill has completed a school-record 61.2 percent of his passes (359 of 588) for 4,227 yards, 26 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in 29 games and 16 starts.

Hill has improved in virtually every aspect including his conditioning and strength.

DYNAMIC DUO: WIDE RECEIVER TANDEM PROVES TO BE THREAT

Columbia has the most dangerous wide receiver tandem and deep threat duo in the Ivy League in sophomores Josh Wainwright and Ronald Smith II. The duo entered the 2017 campaign as a bit of an unknown league-wide as most of their key performances occurred on the back end of the 2016 season. This year, both players have displayed a knack for getting open and a flair for the big play.

Already this season, Wainwright and Smith have accounted for 49.7 percent of the Lions’ receptions (83 of 167), 56.9 percent of their receiving yards (1,152 of 2,023) and nearly half of the Lions’ touchdowns (11 of 27).

In 2016, Wainwright led the Lions in receptions (42), receiving yards (515) and touchdown receptions (5). He also caught a touchdown pass in each of Columbia’s last three games in 2016 and also finished second on the squad in all-purpose yardage with 800. He finished fifth in the Ivy League in both receptions per game and receiving yards per game, seventh in the league in all-purpose yards per game and also caught an 88-yard touchdown reception, Columbia’s longest scoring play of 2016.

This year, Wainwright has 56 catches for 734 yards and seven touchdowns. Wainwright also leads the Lions in all-purpose yardage with 843 for the year (734 receiving, 106 on punt returns, 3 rushing). For his 17-game, 16-start career, Wainwright has caught 98 passes for 1,249 yards and 12 touchdowns.

On Oct. 2, Smith was named Columbia’s first Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week since Oct. 4, 2010 when he set a school-record and Princeton Stadium record with a career-high 236 receiving yards on 10 receptions. He also caught the game-winning touchdown pass on a 63-yard catch and run. His 236-yard receiving game ranks 11th among single-game totals in Ivy League history and marks the fourth highest total in FCS football this year. He also tied a career-high with two touchdown receptions and caught two TD passes for the second consecutive game. He surpassed Columbia’s single-game receiving yards record of 214 yards set by Bill Wazevich vs. Princeton on October 7, 1967. His game-winning 63-yard touchdown reception marked the longest catch of his career. The performance marked Smith’s third 100-yard receiving game of his career. His previous career-high for receiving yards was 195 yards and his career-high for receptions still stands at 11 vs. Yale on Oct. 28, 2016.

Smith has missed each of Columbia’s last three games (at Dartmouth, at Yale, vs. Harvard) with an injury.

For his 10-game and seven-start career, Smith has caught 48 passes for 810 yards and eight touchdowns.

IVY LEAGUE LEADERS

Columbia leads the Ivy League in five team statistical categories: turnover margin (0.38, 17:14), interceptions (12), opponent third down conversions (27.8), time of possession (33:52) and kickoff returns (24.1).

Individually, two Columbia individuals lead the league in their respective statistics: senior punter Parker Thome is the punting leader (42.6) and first-year Will Allen leads in kickoff returns (24.1).

BIG PLAY LIONS

Columbia has a group of playmakers who can make big plays. It has three receivers- Josh Wainwright, Ronald Smith and Emerson Kabus- who each have a catch for over 60 yards or more and each has registered a 100-yard receiving game. In defensive back Will Allen, Columbia also has a kickoff returner capable of scoring a touchdown on any given play. The return of running back Lynnard Rose from injury gives the Lions another playmaking threat.

In eight games, Columbia has had 39 total plays gaining 20 yards or more, six plays gaining 30 or more yards and a whopping 15 plays of 40 or more yards. Of the 15 40-yard plays, five have gone for touchdowns including a 59-yard TD pass to Josh Wainwright, 69-yard TD pass to Wainwright, 46-yard TD pass to Ronald Smith, 63-yard TD pass to Ronald Smith and 55-yard TD pass to Wainwright.

OFFENSIVE QUICK HITS

*Columbia is averaging 363.3 yards of total offense per game, up from 326.5 yards per game in 2016.

*Columbia is averaging 252.9 yards passing per game, up from 201.4 yards passing per game in 2016.

*Columbia is averaging 24.6 points per game, up from 18.5 points per game in 2016.

*Columbia is averaging 20.5 first downs per game, up from 17.7 first downs per game in 2016.

*Quarterback Anders Hill has been responsible for 18 of Columbia’s 27 touchdowns on the year (66.7 percent). He ranks among national leaders in four statistical categories.

*One under-the-radar statistical category that stands out is Hill’s efficiency and success on third downs. Coming into Saturday’s game, on third downs, when Hill passes, he has incredibly completed 41 of 63 passes (65 percent) for 454 yards and six touchdowns and has converted first downs 23 times. He has been sacked 8.0 times and thrown three interceptions.

*Each week receivers Josh Wainwright and Ronald Smith are ranked among league leaders in receiving yards. This week, Wainwright ranks third in the league with 734 yards on 56 receptions and seven touchdowns. After missing the last three games (Dartmouth, Yale and Harvard), Smith is now ranked No. 6 in receptions per game (5.4) and No. 5 in yards per game (83.6) and four touchdowns.

*Three receivers have totaled 100-yard receiving games: Ronald Smith (school-record 236 at Princeton), Josh Wainwright has two 100-yard games (193 vs. Penn, 104 vs. Wagner) and Emerson Kabus (114 at Marist). All three have at least one catch of 60 yards or more.

*Senior running back Chris Schroer provided Columbia its first 100-yard rusher of the season and first since the Brown game on Nov. 18 when he rushed for a career-high 125 yards on 24 carries and caught a career-high seven passes for 46 yards and a 14-yard touchdown vs. Harvard on Nov. 4. Schroer now leads the Lions in rushing with 365 yards on 87 carries (4.2 yards per carry). He ranks eighth in the Ivy League in rushing with a 45.6 yards per game average. Sophomore Tanner Thomas has also rushed for 293 yards on 87 carries and a touchdown (3.4 yards per carry).

*At Dartmouth, sophomore wide receiver Kaleb Pitts stepped up for the injured Ronald Smith. Pitts caught eight passes for 91 yards including a 40-yard pass from Anders Hill in the second quarter.

*Junior wide receiver Kyle Castner was the surprise of preseason. The former quarterback made a position switch to wide receiver in the offseason. In eight starts, Castner has 20 catches for 242 yards. At Yale, Castner had a career-day with six receptions for 97 yards with catches of a career-long 41 yards and 40 yards.

*Backup first-year quarterback Josh Bean has totaled eight combined touchdowns (seven rushing and one passing) touchdowns in seven games played. He is used primarily in short yardage rushing situations and registered back-to-back two touchdown games vs. Penn and at Dartmouth. Bean leads the team and ranks No. 5 in the Ivy League in scoring at 6.0 points per game. Bean has rushed for seven touchdowns on 21 attempts.

*Sophomore running back Lynnard Rose saw action for the first time this year at Marist. Rose missed the first three games with an injury. He has rushed for 48 yards on 13 carries and caught a pass.

COLUMBIA BRINGS THE DEFENSE

Over the last three seasons, Columbia’s defense has proved to be a team strength. Defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro has guided a unit that is ranked among the nation’s best in a variety of statistical categories. So far this year, Columbia’s defense has allowed just 20.1 points per game (No. 26 nationally) and it ranks No. 13 nationally in red zone defense (72.0%). In addition, opponents have converted just 27.8 percent of their third downs (No. 6 nationally) and ranks No. 9 nationally in first down defense.

In 2016, Columbia ranked among national leaders in third down conversion defense (No. 5, 29.3), first down defense (No. 7, 177.0) and team tackles for loss (No. 14, 7.6 per game). In addition, Columbia ranked a respectable No. 39 in total defense (354.9 yards allowed per game) and No. 43 in scoring defense (24.7 points per game allowed).

Ferraro returned six starters from the 2016 team, including all four defensive linemen: Dominic Perkovic, Ivy League Second Team pick Lord Hyeamang, Connor Heeb and Mike Hinton, along with defensive backs in Ivy League Second Team selection Cameron Roane and Landon Baty. Additionally, the Lions returned seven of their top-8 defensive linemen, five linebackers with in-game experience and senior cornerback Denzel Hill, who emerged at the tailend of 2016.

Columbia’s defensive success is a carryover from the 2015 season—Ferraro’s first season at Columbia—which saw a tremendous leap in defensive efficiency, as Columbia improved from the 115th best team in total defense in 2014, to the No. 8 ranked team at 291.1 yards per game a season ago.

In 2015, the Lions also yielded just 19.8 points per game which ranked as the FCS’s No. 17 best tally, while holding opponents to 13 points or less four times. It also ranked No. 2 in the Ivy League in total defense and led the conference in pass defense (186.9 yards per game). In addition, Columbia ranked No. 8 nationally in rushing defense (103.4 yards per game), No. 5 in third down conversion defense (.265) and No. 3 in first down conversion defense (148). The defense also accumulated 23 sacks for 140 yards, which ranked No. 4 in the Ivy League.

DEFENSIVE QUICK HITS

*Columbia’s defense has held opponents to just 20.1 points per game and 338.6 yards of total offense per game. Opponents have rushed for just 135.8 yards rushing per game.

*Columbia has also held opponents to just 17.0 first downs per game.

*Columbia has shut out four of its eight opponents in the first half. The Lions have only allowed 55 first half points this year: 14 to Penn, 14 to Princeton, 13 to Yale and 14 to Harvard. Through the first eight games, Columbia has outscored its opponents 117-55 in the first half.

*Columbia ranks No. 1 in the league in turnover margin at plus-3 with 17 takeaways and 14 giveaways. Ironically, after not registering a turnover in its first two games, Columbia has averaged 2.8 turnovers per game since and has totaled 17 turnovers (12 interceptions and five fumble recoveries) in its last six contests vs. Princeton, at Marist, vs. Penn and at Dartmouth, at Yale and vs. Harvard.

*Two Lions are ranked among the top-10 league leaders in tackles: junior safety Ryan Gilbert (No. 2 at 80) and senior safety Landon Baty (No. 7 at 58). Sophomore Michael Murphy leads the Lions and ranks No. 10 in tackles for loss with 6.0.

*Columbia has intercepted a league-leading 12 passes, led by senior defensive back Landon Baty, who has three. In addition, first-year linebacker Justin Woodley, sophomore defensive back Benjamin McKeighan and junior linebacker Sean White have two apiece

*Defensive line is a team strength as the Lions returned a deep and experienced unit. All four starters and seven of its top eight players returned to the squad including Second Team All-Ivy League selection Lord Hyeamang (17 tackles, 4.0 TFL), senior Dominic Perkovic (20 tackles, 4.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks), senior Connor Heeb (17 tackles, 2.5 TFL) and junior Mike Hinton (21 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 1.0 sack). Other key contributors are senior Alex Holme (19 tackles, 2.0 TFL) and sophomores Arman Samouk (eight tackles) and Daniel DeLorenzi (16 tackles, 2.0 sacks and a team-leading four QB hurries).

*Columbia had to replace all three of its starting linebackers from the 2016 season. The transition has been seamless as this year’s group of linebackers has displayed athleticism and toughness. Sophomore Jalen Williams (26 tackles, three QB hurries), junior Sean White (37 tackles, 2 INT, 2.5 TFL, 3 pass breakups) and sophomore Michael Murphy (42 tackles, 6.0 TFL, two fumble recoveries, 1.0 sack) have all emerged as starters and key contributors. Murphy, who was injured vs. Harvard, earned STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week for his effort against Penn. In addition, junior Calvin Falkenhayn (10 tackles, 4.0 TFL) and senior Parker Tobia (10 tackles) have both played key roles. First-years Justin Woodley (14 tackles, 2 INT) and Cameren Carter (five tackles) have also contributed. Woodley was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after intercepted two passes vs. Penn.

*Safety Ryan Gilbert leads the Lions in tackles with 80 (44 solo). He ranks second in the Ivy League in tackles. He has started all eight games and registered a career-high 18 tackles (13 solo) at Yale. He has registered four multi-tackle games on the year.

*Senior co-captain Landon Baty has been the Lions’ sparkplug on defense, ranking second on the squad with 58 tackles (27 solo) and registering a team-high three interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He has had two games of registering a career-high 12 tackles vs. both Wagner and at Dartmouth.

*Seniors Cameron Roane (2016 All-Ivy League Second Team) and sophomore Benjamin McKeighan (32 tackles, 2 INT) have seen the most action at cornerback. Roane has a team-high seven pass breakups and has made 21 tackles.

*Columbia has only registered 11 sacks on the season, the lowest total in the Ivy League. Mike Hinton registered the most important sack of the season on the final play of the Dartmouth game. Perkovic and DeLorenzi lead the team with 2.0 sacks.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES

*Columbia has enjoyed superb special teams play in 2017. It has blocked five kicks on the year (2 vs. Wagner, 2 at Yale and a PAT vs. Harvard) and recovered an on-side kick (at Princeton). Senior Connor Heeb and first-year Will Allen have both blocked two kicks apiece. Columbia has also both contained and limited explosive players from other teams including Harvard’s Justice Shelton-Mosley.

*Field goal specialist Oren Milstein was named the Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week (Oct. 9) after converting two field goals and all five of his extra points vs. Marist. He has nailed 16 of 21 career field goal attempts, won three career games on field goals and converted 37 of 39 career point after attempts. Previously, he converted 35 consecutive point after attempts. He has earned the Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week award three times and has won five total conference awards.

*Senior punter Parker Thome leads the Ivy League in punting at 42.6 yards per punt. He also ranks No. 14 nationally in the same category. On the year, Thome has placed 14 punts inside the 20-yard line and seven of his punts have gone farther than 50 yards.

*First-year kickoff returner Will Allen leads the Ivy League in kickoff returns with a 24.1 yards per KOR average (21 for 507 yards). He has returned five total kickoffs over 30 yards and three over 40 yards with a long of 48 vs. Harvard.

*Junior kickoff specialist Chris Alleyne has registered touchbacks in 14 of 36 kickoffs.

*Sophomore punt returner Josh Wainwright ranks No. 24 nationally and No. 3 in the Ivy League at 8.8 yards per punt return.

FOR SIXTH WEEK LIONS EARN VOTES IN STATS, INC. NATIONAL POLL

For a seventh consecutive week, Columbia gained votes in the STATS, Inc. national poll. This week, the Lions secured four points in the poll and are listed in the “others receiving votes.” Columbia is the third highest ranked Ivy League school in the poll and is one of three Ivy League schools receiving votes including Yale (63 points) and Dartmouth (nine points).

Columbia first appeared in the STATS, Inc. national FCS poll on Monday, Oct. 2 with 22 points following a 28-24 win over Princeton on Sept. 30. On Monday, Oct. 9, Columbia earned 23 points following its win at Marist. It garnered 48 points on Oct. 16 and earned a season-high 115 points on Oct. 23, 2017. Last week on Oct. 30 the Lions earned 20 points.

The last time Columbia earned a national ranking was during the final 1947 poll where it came in at No. 20 in the Associated Press poll following a 7-2 overall record. Columbia has never been ranked since it joined the FCS.

FIRST WINNING SEASON SINCE 1996

With its six wins, Columbia is already guaranteed of its first winning season in 21 years. The last time it finished a year with a winning record was in 1996 when it went 8-2 overall and 5-2 in Ivy League play. 

Columbia has already won more games than it accumulated in its first two seasons under Al Bagnoli: 2-8 in 2015 and 3-7 in 2016. The last time the Lions put together a .500 or better overall season was in 2006 when they finished 5-5 overall and 2-5 in the Ivy League.

6-0 START FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1996 

With its six wins to start the 2017 season, Columbia began a year at 6-0 overall for the first time since 1996. Columbia started its season at 6-0 for the just the second time since 1945. Columbia has started a season at 6-0 or better only six times in school history: 1903 (8-0), 1904 (6-0), 1932 (7-0), 1945 (6-0), 1996 (6-0) and 2017 (6-0). 

With its six wins already in 2017, Columbia has already surpassed its win total of five victories over the previous four years (2013-16). The Lions went 5-35 during that span. In just two-and-half seasons at Columbia, Bagnoli has already won more games (11) than Columbia won in the previous five seasons (2010-14) before he became head coach. The Lions went 8-42 during that five-year span. 

In 1996, Columbia won six straight games to start its season en route to an 8-2 overall record and 5-2 Ivy League record. Two of those wins were in overtime: Sept. 21 vs. Harvard (OT), 20-13; Sept. 28 at Fordham, 17-10; Oct. 5 at Holy Cross, 42-16; Oct. 12 at Penn (OT), 20-19; Oct. 19 Lafayette (Homecoming), 3-0 and Oct. 26 at Yale, 13-10. The streak ended with a 14-11 home loss to Princeton on Nov. 2.  Ironically, Columbia defeated Al Bagnoli’s Penn-coached team 20-19 in overtime in 1996.

COLUMBIA’S SEVEN-GAME WIN STREAK 

Columbia’s seven-game win streak from November 19, 2016 to October 28, 2017 marks the school’s longest win streak since 1935. With its 22-17 win at Dartmouth, Columbia claimed its seventh consecutive win while closing out the 2016 season with a 31-13 victory over Brown. The last time Columbia won seven straight games was from Oct. 27, 1934 to Oct. 19, 1935. 

The seven-game win streak ranks tied for the third longest win streak in school history. The school-record is eight consecutive wins set two different times. It won a school-best eight consecutive contests to open the 1903 season. Columbia also won eight straight games from Oct. 28, 1933-Oct. 20, 1934. Columbia’s all-time win streaks are as follows: 8, Sept. 26, 1903-Oct. 31, 1903; 8, Oct. 28, 1993-Oct. 20, 1934; 7, Nov. 19, 2016-current; 7, Oct. 27, 1934-Oct. 19, 1935; 7, Sept. 24, 1932-Nov. 12, 1932.

MONUMENTAL TRIFECTA: DARTMOUTH-PENN-PRINCETON SWEEP 

With victories over Dartmouth (22-17), Penn (34-31 in OT) and Princeton (28-24), Columbia swept all three opponents for the first time since the 1971 season. Since the Ivy League was formed in 1956, Columbia has defeated Dartmouth, Penn and Princeton in the same season only two times: 1971 and 2017. Dartmouth, Penn and Princeton combined to win each of the last three Ivy League titles.

NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE BAGNOLI IN THIRD SEASON AT COLUMBIA HELM 

Patricia and Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli is in his third season guiding the Columbia Football program. In his 36th year as a head coach, Bagnoli owns a 246-115 overall record and previously led Penn to nine Ivy League titles. He has turned football programs around at both Union College, N.Y. and Penn, where he guided the Quakers to nine Ivy League championships. 

In Ivy League records, he ranks among all-time Ivy League coaches in league titles (tied for No. 2 with 9), most games overall coached in the Ivy League (No. 2 at 252), most games coached vs. Ivy League teams (No. 2 with 177), most overall coaching wins in the Ivy League (No. 3 at 156), most coaching wins vs. Ivy League teams (No. 2 with 117) and most seasons coached in the Ivy League (No. 4 at 26th). Nationally and combining all NCAA levels, Bagnoli ranks No. 6 among winningest active college coaches by victories with 245. Among national FCS coaches, Bagnoli currently ranks No. 3 among winningest active coaches with 245 wins and No. 11 among all-time winningest FCS coaches by victories (245). 

Bagnoli’s players have also achieved success with three former players taken in the NFL Draft, 23 have signed NFL free agent contracts, five have won the Ivy League’s Bushnell Cup Awards, eight have earned First Team All-America honors, 125 were All-Ivy League First Team selections and 203 earned All-Ivy League honors.

In his 36 years as a head coach, Bagnoli has experienced only four seasons of sub-.500 football.

BAGNOLI AND PENN 

The October 14, 2017 matchup against Penn marked the third meeting between Bagnoli and his former employer where he spent 23 seasons as the Quakers’ head coach from 1992-2014.  In 23 seasons, Bagnoli guided Penn to nine Ivy League championships (1993, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012), a 148-89 overall record and 112-49 Ivy League record. He also led Penn to three undefeated seasons (10-0 in 1993, 9-0 in 1994 and 10-0 in 2003), 12 years of seven or more victories and six perfect 7-0 Ivy League slates. Bagnoli also guided Penn on the longest winning streak in FCS history (24 wins from 1993-95). 

At Penn, Bagnoli compiled a 20-3 record vs. Columbia. Against Penn, he is 1-2. He has now registered victories against all eight Ivy League teams.

CLOSE CALLS AND TIGHTLY CONTESTED GAMES 

Since Al Bagnoli took over as head coach in 2015, Columbia has been competitive in almost every game. Of Columbia’s 17 losses under Bagnoli, 12 have been decided by 10 points or fewer. Only five of those 17 losses have been decided by 10 points or more. 

Five of Columbia’s seven losses in 2016 were decided by 10 points or less, while Columbia’s average margin of loss in 2016 was 12.0. A 35-point loss to Princeton on Oct. 1, 2016 and a 25-point loss at Penn on Oct. 25, 2016 were uncharacteristic of Bagnoli’s teams at Columbia. Additionally, the Lions were competitive in every game in 2015, Bagnoli’s first season at Columbia, as six of their eight losses were decided by 10 points or less. In contrast, during its 10 losses in 2014, Columbia lost all 10 games by a combined 28.6 points per loss. 

Since Bagnoli became Columbia’s head coach at the start of the 2015 season, Columbia has won 11 contests.