Empire State Bowl Presented by New York Presbyterian
Saturday, November 12, 2016 | 1 p.m. ET | Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
Cornell (3-5, 1-4 Ivy)
CornellColumbia
Columbia (2-6, 1-4 Ivy)

NEW YORK—Columbia (2-6, 1-4 Ivy League) hosts Cornell (3-5, 1-4 Ivy League) for the 104th annual Empire State Bowl Game Presented by New York Presbyterian on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at Robert K. Kraft Field. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET. The two teams will play for the right to take possession of the Empire Cup. The rivaly began in 1889.

WHERE TO LISTEN/WATCH

The Ivy League Digital Network will televise the game with Jerry Recco (play-by-play) and Sal Licata (color analyst) calling action. The game will be simulcast on the Columbia Online Radio Network. WKCR-Radio (89.9 FM), Columbia’s student radio station will also broadcast the game live from Robert K. Kraft Field.

SENIOR DAY FESTIVITIES

Columbia will honor its 24-member Senior Class in pre-game festivities. Each senior will be announced in its annual pre-game ceremony. Among those seniors honored on Saturday include Justin Aimonetti, Keith Brady, William Carson, Mark Cieslak, Christian Conway, Toure Douglas, Jackson Conway, Cameron Dunn, Nathan Gibbs, Denzel Hill, Scooter Hollis, John Hunton, Ben Kaplan, Jared Katz, Brock Kenyon, Tyler Kwiatkowski, Skyler Mornhinweg, Cameron Nizialek, Kendall Pace, Matt Panton, Willie Peoples, Gianmarco Rea and Alan Watson.

EMPIRE STATE BOWL SPONSORED BY NEW YORK-PRESBYTERIAN

Saturday’s Empire State Bowl is sponsored by New York-Presbyterian. In collaboration with two renowned medical schools that compete annually in the Empire State Bowl, the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine, New York-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive, integrated academic health care delivery systems, dedicated to providing the highest quality, most compassionate care and service to patients in the New York metropolitan area, nationally and globally. New York-Presbyterian is consistently recognized as a leader in medical education, groundbreaking research, and innovative, patient-centered clinical care.

BAGNOLI ENTERS SECOND SEASON

Patricia & Shepard Alexander Head Coach of Football Al Bagnoli is in his second season guiding the Columbia Football program. In his 35th year as a head coach, Bagnoli owns a 238-113 overall record and previously led Penn to nine Ivy League titles. He has turned football programs around at both Union College and Penn, where he guided the Quakers to nine Ivy League championships. The Lions last went 5-5 in 2006.

ABOUT THE LIONS

Columbia plays its ninth overall game and sixth Ivy League contest of the 2016 season on Saturday. Winners of two of its last five games, Columbia lost a 28-21 decision at No. 22 Harvard last weekend. With two games to go and two wins, the Lions already have matched their victory total from the 2015 season. Columbia’s two victories on the year include a 9-7 Homecoming win over Dartmouth on Oct. 22 and a 15-13 win at Wagner on a rainy Oct. 8.

The 2016 season has seen Columbia receive important contributions from its 2016 freshman class. A total of 21 freshmen have seen significant action this season, while 20 freshmen made the trip to Harvard last weekend. From the previous year, the youthful Lions returned two 2015 All-Ivy League picks in defensive back Jared Katz and punter Cameron Nizialek, along with eight starters on offense and six on defense. Seventy-five letterwinners returned to the squad. Columbia also added 41 newcomers to the team, the nation’s No. 3 ranked recruiting class at the FCS level. Those newcomers account for 37 percent of its 2016 roster.

Quarterback Anders Hill has started each of the last six games and has completed 107 of his 208 passes for 1,145 yards and five touchdowns. He is averaging 143.1 yards passing per game. Alan Watson leads the Lions in rushing with 364 yards on 95 carries. Josh Wainwright is the Lions’ leading receiver with 32 catches for 318 yards and two touchdowns, Scooter Hollis has 30 receptions for 271 yards and Cameron Dunn 26 catches for 280 yards and two touchdowns.

Columbia’s defense has been stout all season, allowing 24 points per game, 345.8 yards per game and holding teams to a 29 percent third down conversion rate. Linebacker Gianmarco Rea is Columbia’s team leader in tackles (88) and sacks (5.0-26). Safety Brock Kenyon has three interceptions and 61 tackles, linebacker Keith Brady (58 tackles), linebacker Christian Conway (54 tackles, 4.0 sacks) and safety Landon Baty (43 tackles) are all key contributors.

ABOUT THE BIG RED

Cornell (3-5, 1-4 Ivy League) enters its game against Columbia on a five-game losing streak.  Last weekend, the Big Red dropped a 17-13 home loss to Dartmouth. The Big Red won its first three games of the season (at Bucknell, Yale and at No. 25 Colgate), but have lost five since. Quarterback Dalton Banks leads Cornell as he has completed 173 of 298 passes (58 percent) for 1,925 yards and 14 touchdowns. Banks has also rushed for four touchdowns and 146 yards on 78 carries. Chris Walker leads the Big Red in rushing with 429 yards on 88 carries (4.9 yards per carry). With 32 catches for 305 yards and two touchdowns, Marshall Duetz is Cornell’s leading receiver with Matt Sullivan (28 catches for 279 yards, 2 TD), Ben Rogers (21 receptions for 308 yards and 5 TD) and Collin Shaw (20 catches for 272 yards, 2 TD) not far behind. Nick Gesualdi is Cornell’s leading tackler with 67 tackles and five interceptions for 49 yards, followed by Reis Seggebruch (64 tackles), Jackson Weber (57 tackles, six pass breakups), Justin Solomon (53 tackles) and Kurt Frimel (45 tackles, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries).

COLUMBIA-CORNELL SERIES

Columbia and Cornell meet for the 104th time in history dating back to the series’ first game in 1889. Cornell has claimed each of the last three meetings dating back to a 34-17 Columbia win at Robert K. Kraft Field on Nov. 10, 2012. Over the series’ last 10 games, the series is tied at 5-5, while Columbia has claimed four of the last five home matchups.

LIONS’ TWO VICTORIES MATCHES 2015 TOTAL

With two victories in 2016, Columbia has matched its win total from the 2015 campaign. The Lions went 2-8 last year. Columbia has won two of its last four contests. The last time Columbia entered a game after having won two of its previous four games was in 2012.

BAGNOLI HOMECOMING

On Oct. 15, Columbia head coach Al Bagnoli made his first competitive return to the University of Pennsylvania since he was hired as Columbia’s head football coach on February 23, 2015. In 23 seasons from 1992-2014, 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).

CLOSE CALLS AND TIGHTLY CONTESTED GAMES

Since Al Bagnoli took over as head coach, Columbia has been competitive in almost every game. Of Columbia’s last 14 losses, 10 have been decided by 10 points or fewer. Oct. 1st’s 35-point loss to Princeton and Oct. 15th’s 25-point loss at Penn were uncharacteristic of Bagnoli’s teams at Columbia. Four of Columbia’s six losses in 2016 have been decided by 10 points or less. Columbia’s average margin of loss in 2016 is 13.7. The Lions were competitive in every game in 2015 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 head coach at the start of the 2015 season, 12 of Colombia’s 18 total games have been decided by 10 points or less. Columbia has won four of those contests.

COLUMBIA FRESHMAN CLASS SCORES 41 STRAIGHT POINTS

A fourth quarter pass to Cameron Dunn on Friday, Oct. 28 against Yale snapped a streak in which several Columbia freshmen scored 41 consecutive points for the Lions. The streak began against Princeton on Oct. 1 and concluded Friday night against Yale when senior wide receiver Cameron Dunn scored on a touchdown pass. Freshman placekicker Oren Milstein scored all nine points in the 9-7 win over Dartmouth (Oct. 22). Freshman quarterback Hunter Petlansky scored a touchdown and Milstein provided the extra point and a field goal at Penn (Oct. 15). Milstein scored all 15 points on a school-record five field goals at Wagner (Oct. 8). Freshman wide receiver Josh Wainwright scored Columbia’s second touchdown and Milstein provided the extra point vs. Princeton.

COLUMBIA BRINGS THE DEFENSE

Through eight games, Columbia has been strong on defense. It ranks No. 31 nationally in total defense (340.5 yards per game), No. 37 in scoring defense (24.0 points per game allowed), No. 5 in first downs defense (134.0), and No. 8 in third down conversion defense (0.291). In addition, the Lions rank No. 13 in team tackles for loss (7.9 per game).

Columbia’s defense is anchored by its three senior linebackers, Gianmarco Rea, Christian Conway and Keith Brady, who account for 36 percent of the Lions’ total tackles. The trio is extremely talented at getting to plays and making tackles. Rea ranks No. 7 nationally in tackles  per game (11.1) and No. 10 nationally in solo tackles per game (5.9). He is also tied for the team lead in sacks (5.0-26). Safety Brock Kenyon (61 tackles and three interceptions), Brady (58 tackles) and Conway (54 tackles, 4.0 sacks) are among league leaders. Rea leads the Ivy League in tackles, while Kenyon is ninth, Brady is 11th and Conway is 13th. The Lions have four of the Ivy League’s top-15 ranked tacklers.

All year, third down has been a successful situation for Columbia’s defense. Columbia leads the league by a wide margin and ranks No. 8 nationally on third down efficiency, holding opponents to a 29.1 percent conversion rate (33-114). On third down, freshmen Daniel DeLorenzi (team leader in sacks, 5.0-23) and Michael Geraghty (two sacks) are inserted into the defensive line. The duo ranks No. 9 and No. 14 respectively in the Ivy League in sacks despite playing primarily on third downs. With his team-leading five sacks, Rea and Conway are both tied for sixth in the Ivy League in sacks.

Columbia’s defensive success is a carryover from the 2015 season, which saw a tremendous leap in defensive efficiency, as Columbia went 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. Columbia 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 coordinator Paul Ferraro returned six starters from the 2015 team, including one defensive lineman (Dominic Perkovic), all three linebackers (Gianmarco Rea, Christian Conway and Keith Brady) and two defensive backs (Jared Katz, Brock Kenyon).

FRESHMAN KICKER OREN MILSTEIN EARNS IVY LEAGUE SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK/ROOKIE OF THE WEEK FOR SECOND TIME

After converting three field goals including the game-winner in Columbia’s 9-7 come-from-behind football win against Dartmouth on Oct. 22, freshman placekicker Oren Milstein was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week and co-Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 24. Milstein shared the co-Special Teams Player of the Week honor with Brown’s Alexander Jette.

Battling rain and 40-mile per hour wind gusts, Milstein converted three of his four field goal attempts, including the go-ahead and eventual game-winning 33-yard kick with 1:05 left in the third quarter. Milstein’s field goals came at 31, 20, and 33 yards.

Milstein also first earned the dual honors on Oct. 10 after converting a school-record five field goals in Columbia’s 15-13 come-from-behind football win at Wagner. He also earned FCS Special Teams Player of the Week honorable mention honors. With Columbia trailing 13-12, Milstein converted his fifth and final field goal of the game, a 36-yarder with 2:42 left, to give the Lions a 15-13 fourth quarter lead. The record-breaking field goal proved to be the game-winner as Columbia won its first game of the 2016 season.

Milstein, whose field goals came at 18, 33, 39, 18 and 36 yards, set school records for field goals made (five) and most points scored by kicking (15). His five field goals surpassed the previous record of four set by Nick Rudd (vs. Princeton, 2003) and Howard Miller (vs. Wesleyan, 1915) and his 15 points surpassed Rudd’s kick scoring record of 13 points set in 2003 vs. Princeton. Milstein was a perfect 5-5 on field goals for the game. He converted his first career field goal in the first quarter on an 18-yard kick.

MILSTEIN AMONG NATIONAL LEADERS IN FIELD GOAL KICKING

After only seven games played this season, Oren Milstein ranks No. 3 nationally in field goal percentage (.900) and No. 19 nationally in field goals per game (1.29). He leads the Ivy League in field goals made (nine,1.29 per game), field goal percentage (90.0, 9-10), ranks fourth in kick scoring (4.9 points per game) and ninth in overall scoring (4.9 ppg.).

SPEEDY WATSON EMERGES AT RUNNING BACK

Senior running back Alan Watson has emerged as Columbia’s top rusher as he currently ranks No. 8 in the Ivy League in rushing with 364 yards on 95 carries for a 3.8 yards per game average. Watson had a breakout performance at Wagner on Oct. 8, rushing for a career-high 107 yards on 23 carries. He became the first Columbia player to rush for 100 yards or more since Cameron Molina ran for 174 yards vs. Brown on Nov. 20, 2015. It was his first career start. He has started at tailback in all games since.

Watson and senior Chris Schroer (40 carries for 154 yards) give the Lions two different types of backs. Schroer is a between the tackles player, while Watson excels in the open field. Freshmen Tanner Thomas and Lynnard Rose are also key contributors and are the future of the Columbia running game.

SPECIAL TEAMS PERFORMANCE KEY TO COLUMBIA SUCCESS

Special teams play has become a key to Columbia’s success in 2016. Columbia’s punting game consistently helps the Lions win the field possession battle and ranks No. 19 nationally with a 38.4 yards per punt average. Columbia’s punt return defense ranks No. 24 nationally (4.7 yards per return) and its kickoff return defense ranks at a stellar No. 22 nationally (17.8 yards per return). Two Columbia players lead the Ivy League in a variety of special teams statistics including Cameron Nizialek (punting) and Oren Milstein (field goals).

Columbia has a specialist for every occasion. Cameron Nizialek is CU’s punter on long range situations, Matt Panton is its placement punter. Chris Alleyne is Columbia’s kickoff specialist, while Milstein kicks the field goals. Josh Wainwright and Lynnard Rose are its kickoff and punt returners.

NIZIALEK LEADS IVY LEAGUE IN PUNTING

Senior Cameron Nizialek enters Saturday’s game leading the Ivy League in punting. He averages 44.0 yards per punt with a league-best long of 65 yards. Last year, he was an All-Ivy League punter and placekicker. In addition, Matthew Panton also averages 39.6 yards per punt (36-1,424) and has placed 16 punts inside the 20-yard line. Nizialek was ranked No. 7 nationally last week.

ANDERS HILL EMERGES AT QUARTERBACK

Junior Anders Hill has emerged as the starting quarterback for Columbia. Hill has started each of the last six games for the Lions. He ranks No. 6 in the Ivy League in passing yardage per game (143.1), No. 7 in passing efficiency (100.8) and No. 6 in total offense (167.6).

Previously against Yale, Hill had his best game yet, setting career-highs for completions (24), attempts (46), passing yards (246) and touchdown passes (3). The last time a Columbia quarterback passed for three touchdowns in a game was on Oct. 11, 2014 when Trevor McDonagh threw for four against Monmouth. The last time a CU quarterback threw for 200 or more yards was on Nov. 1, 2014 vs. Yale (232 yards).

RONALD SMITH HAS CAREER DAY VS. YALE

Freshman wide receiver Ronald Smith notched career-highs for touchdown receptions (two), receptions (six) and receiving yards (114) against Yale last Friday. His reception of 39 yards also marked a career-long. The last time a Columbia player caught two touchdown passes in a game was on Nov. 10, 2012 when Chris Connors caught two against Cornell. Smith became the second player this season to finish with over 100 yards receiving in a game as senior Scooter Hollis registered 131 yards at Georgetown on Sept. 26, 2015.

On the year in only three games played, Smith has nine receptions for 136 yards and three touchdowns.

NO. 22 HARVARD HOLDS OFF COLUMBIA, 28-21

No. 22 ranked Harvard scored 21 points off three Columbia third quarter fumbles and held off the Lions to register a 28-21 football win Saturday at Harvard Stadium.

Trailing 14-7 at halftime, Harvard scored 21 unanswered third quarter points to take a 28-14 lead. A Columbia fumble gave Harvard the ball deep in Columbia territory and the Crimson tied the game at 14-14 on a 15-yard Charlie Booker run with 10:29 left in the third quarter. On its next possession, Harvard went up 21-14 on an eight-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Viviano to Anthon Firkser. The play was setup by a 32-yard pass from Viviano to Adam Scott which sparked an eight play, 50 yard scoring drive. After another Columbia fumble on the ensuing possession, the Crimson took a 28-14 lead when Scott caught a screen pass from Viviano and ran 22 yards for a touchdown.

Columbia (2-6, 1-4 Ivy League) cut the deficit to 28-21 with 4:02 left in the game when freshman Josh Wainwright caught a four-yard touchdown pass from senior Skyler Mornhinweg. The score ended a 12-play, 84-yard drive. Columbia had two more possessions in the game’s final four minutes but couldn’t close the margin.

“It’s tough when you turn the ball over the amount of times we did today,” Columbia Head Coach Al Bagnoli said. “With the turnovers, it really puts a lot of stress on our defense. When you have three turnovers deep in your own territory, it’s really difficult to hold them off when you play an explosive team like Harvard. We played really well defensively for the majority of the game. We did a pretty nice job of bottling them up.”

“We’re still trying to get a consistent, sustained effort, but I commend our players, we had great effort from our team today. We’re slowly starting to get this thing turned around and built. Hopefully we can get it sustained to where we see some consistency over the long-haul.”

For the first time this season, Columbia led at halftime. Columbia’s defense stopped Harvard on a fourth and goal from the Lion one-yard line to secure a 14-7 halftime lead. Columbia’s defense stopped Viviano after he took the snap from center.

The Lions built a 14-7 lead with 10:40 left in the second quarter when freshman Michael Murphy blocked a Harvard punt and freshman Hunter Lunsford scooped up the ball and rambled 14 yards into the end zone for a touchdown. The last time Columbia blocked a kick for a touchdown was in 2004 against Fordham when Ryan Mettee returned a kick eight yards for a touchdown.

Columbia tied the score at 7-7 with the first play of the second quarter when junior quarterback Anders Hill found freshman Ronald Smith open for a five-yard touchdown pass. Columbia sophomore Ryan Gilbert set up the touchdown when he recovered a fumble off a Harvard punt return. The fumble recovery gave Columbia the ball at the Harvard 43-yard line. On the next play, senior Cameron Dunn caught a 30-yard pass from Hill and senior Alan Watson broke several tackles for a first down. Hill found Smith for the touchdown. The drive went six plays, 57 yards and 2:21.

Harvard (7-1, 5-0 Ivy League) struck first with a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 29-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Viviano to Adam Scott.

Viviano led Harvard as he completed 17 of 34 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns. Scott caught seven passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns and Firkser finished with four catches for 79 yards and a touchdown.

For Columbia, Hill threw for 110 yards on 12 of 22 passes and a touchdown, Mornhinweg completed 12 of 24 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown in his first action in three games, Wainwright caught seven passes for 58 yards and Dunn finished with six catches for 70 yards. Senior linebacker Gianmarco Rea led the Lion defense with a game-high 15 tackles and two sacks.

COLUMBIA-HARVARD POST-GAME NOTES

•Junior Alex Holme made his second career and second consecutive start at defensive tackle. Holme finished with a career-high six tackles.

•Columbia recovered its second and third fumbles of the year. Sophomore Ryan Gilbert fell on a fumbled punt return at the end of the first quarter and freshman Hunter Lunsford recovered a blocked punt and returned it for a touchdown in the second quarter.

•Senior Brock Kenyon intercepted his team-leading third pass in the third quarter. Kenyon leaped in the air and collected the pass at the goalline. Kenyon also made seven tackles.

•Freshman wide receiver Ronald Smith caught his team-leading and third career touchdown pass on a five-yard reception in the second quarter. Smith has scored three touchdowns in Columbia’s last two games.

•Columbia freshman Michael Murphy blocked a Harvard punt and freshman Hunter Lunsford scooped up the ball and ran 14 yards into the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter. The blocked kick for touchdown was Columbia’s first since it scored when Ryan Mettee ran for eight yards vs. Fordham in 2004. It was Columbia’s second blocked punt of the season as Ronald Smith blocked the first at Penn.

•Freshman Arman Samouk registered his first career sack in the second quarter.

•Columbia led for the first time this season at halftime. The Lions led 14-7 at halftime.

•Senior quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg saw his first action in three games. He completed 12 of 24 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown.

•Senior Gianmarco Rea finished with a team-leading 15 tackles and team-highs of two sacks/tackles for loss for 17 yards. He has now totaled 10 or more tackles in seven of Columbia’s eight games this year.

•Freshman Daniel DeLorenzi registered his team-leading fourth and fifth sacks of the season. He finished the day with four tackles, 2.0 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss.

•Junior Connor Heeb totaled a career-high seven tackles.

•Senior Cameron Dunn registered season-highs six receptions for 70 yards with a long of 30.

•Columbia traveled 20 freshmen on today’s travel squad. That number represents 31 percent of its travel roster (20 of 63).

•Columbia and Harvard met for the 75th time in series history. Harvard now leads the all-time series 61-13-1 overall. Harvard has now claimed each of the last 13 consecutive games in the series dating back to a Nov. 8, 2003 Columbia victory in New York. In games played at Harvard, Columbia is 5-32-1 overall. Harvard has now won 19 straight games played against Columbia in Cambridge.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT COLUMBIA

“Columbia fans should be very proud. That program is going in the right direction with a Hall of Fame coach. Their defense didn’t give us much. It was a hard-fought, physical game. That’s a good Columbia football team over there. The future is very bright and there’s a lot of victories ahead for that team.”

               - Saint Francis head coach Chris Villarrial.

“I think Al Bagnoli was sort of the Division III version of Nick Saban 30 years ago. He had a program that was perfectly designed from top to bottom, and he had great players. I think that was because he had the entire college on board with what he was trying to do.”

               -Tim Layden, Sports Illustrated

“I give Columbia credit. They did some nice things, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, and got out of here with a win. So, my hat’s off to them. We knew coming in they were a team that was better than their record.”

               -Jason Houghtaling, Wagner Head Coach

“I give Columbia credit. Columbia was very efficient offensively, their kicking game was solid and they played lights out on defense. They deserved to win. They shut us down offensively. Defensively, if you hold a team to nine points, you figure you’re going to win those games. It wasn’t through lack of effort, they beat us.”

               -Buddy Teevens, Dartmouth Head Coach

NEW OFFENSIVE MINDSET

Columbia is looking to play a more up-tempo offensive game in 2016. Last year, Columbia led the Ivy League and ranked No. 5 nationally in time of possession (33:31 minutes per game). According to Coach Bagnoli and Offensive Coordinator Mark Fabish, the Lions plan to play at a faster pace with improved speed on the field, two second-year quarterbacks (Skyler Mornhinweg and Anders Hill) and returning experience on the offensive line. Last year, the Lions ranked No. 103 nationally in total offense (296.7 yards per game) and No. 111 (14.3 points per game).

WAINWRIGHT MAKES IMMEDIATE IMPACT

Freshman wide receiver Josh Wainwright has made an immediate impact. His speed and athleticism gives Columbia a big play threat. He ranks No. 8 in the Ivy League in all purpose yardage (84.4), No. 6 in receptions per game (4.6) and No. 8 in receiving yards per game (46.4). He leads the team in receiving yards (318 yards), has caught two touchdown passes and also registered his first career touchdown, an 88-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter against Princeton.

FRESHMAN IMPACT PLAYERS

Of Columbia’s freshman class, several will and have already made immediate contributions. At the skill positions, Tanner Thomas and Lynnard Rose have seen significant action at running back, while Josh Wainwright, Ronald Smith and Christian Everett played receiver.

Twelve freshmen are listed on the depth chart. Wainwright is the listed starter at one receiver position. He is the only offensive/defensive starter listed on the depth chart. Other freshmen listed on the depth chart include Wainwright (KR, PR), Jalen Williams (LB), Christian Everett (WR), Parker Coogan (C), Oren Milstein (PK),  Tanner Thomas (RB), Lynnard Rose (PR/KR), Matt Tofano (LB), Michael Murphy (LB), Hunter Lunsford (SS) and Arman Samouk (DL). Defensive linemen Daniel DeLorenzi and Michael Geraghty have also seen immediate playing time.

LIONS RECRUITING CLASS MAKES HUGE IMPACT

Columbia brought in a large 41-member recruiting class this offseason. The 2020 class was ranked No. 3 in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and No. 2 in the Ivy League (behind Yale) by 247Sports.com Saturday Blitz.

The class features 14 student-athletes who earned all-state honors and 10 that won state championships during their high school careers. According to national recruiting websites, six were three-star athletes and four were two-star players.

The Class of 2020 is comprised of student-athletes from 19 states. Florida and Pennsylvania each have four representatives, followed by California, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas with three each.

Columbia put an emphasis on the offensive line and the front seven on defense, bringing in six offensive linemen and eight defensive linemen to go with five linebackers. The new Lions’ “hogs” check in at an average height of 6-3 and weight of 275 pounds. The defensive linemen weigh-in at an average of 241 pounds and stand at 6-2. The Lions also brought in five defensive backs and five wide receivers to lead the positional breakdown.

IVY LEAGUE EXPERIMENTAL RULES

The Ivy League will use an experimental rule for the 2016 football season to move kickoffs to the 40-yard line and touchbacks to the 20-yard line in an effort to reduce concussions and further promote the safety and welfare of its student-athletes. These rules will only be used in Ivy League games.

The goal of the experimental rule is to limit kickoff returns, which account for 23.4 percent of concussions during games despite representing only 5.8 percent of overall plays. The League will evaluate the concussion and kickoff return data after the 2016 season.

The request was made to the NCAA as a part of The Ivy League’s overall review of concussions, which began with football in 2010 and has included eight other sports to date (men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, wrestling and rugby).

As a result of this comprehensive review of concussions, the League began an all-sports concussion data collection and study in 2013. Data from this study prompted discussion of kickoffs, which led to The Ivy League head football coaches suggesting this experimental rule change. The NCAA granted The League’s request for conference games only.

This experimental rule is the latest in a series of Ivy policies and rules that are designed to limit the incidence of concussions. Most recently in May, The Ivy League formally adopted another policy originating with the League’s eight head football coaches to eliminate to-the-ground (“live”) tackling in practices during the regular season, which will also go into effect with the 2016 campaign. Changing practice rules does not require NCAA approval.

BILL CAMPBELL NO. 67 FEATURED ON JERSEYS

For all of its 31 varsity sports, Columbia will wear a No. 67 patch on its uniform in honor of former Lion player, coach, confidante and friend Bill Campbell, who passed away in April, 2016 at age 75. The Lion football team will also feature 67 stickers on helmets.

A four-year student-athlete, Campbell captained the 1961 Ivy League Championship football team, which was inducted into the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010,  and earned All-Ivy League accolades as a senior. In 1963, Bill and a group of football and rugby alumni founded the Old Blue Rugby Club. He returned to Columbia to coach the Columbia Football team for six seasons between 1974 and 1979.

Campbell made his mark in the business world and became known as the “Coach of Silicon Valley.” He was vice president at J. Walter Thompson, an advertising agency based in New York, and then moved on to become general manager of consumer products for Kodak Europe. After Kodak, he joined Apple Computer in 1983, and rose to the level of executive vice president; he went on to found and served as president and CEO of Claris Corporation, a spin-off software developing company created and owned by Apple in 1990. Campbell assumed his role as chairman of Intuit, the maker of Quicken, QuickBooks, and Turbo Tax, in 1998 and served as its CEO until 2000. As an executive, Campbell’s marketing and strategic acumen helped build Claris, Apple, and Intuit alike into remarkable Silicon Valley success stories.

Because of his tremendous leadership and passion for Columbia Athletics, the University dedicated the Campbell Sports Center in his honor in October 2013. In fall 2014, the athletics program retired uniform number 67 – the number Campbell wore as an offensive lineman and linebacker for the 1961 Ivy League Champions - for all 31 of Columbia’s varsity teams. At the 2015 Varsity C Celebration, the athletics program introduced a new award, the William V. Campbell Performer of the Year to be presented annually to the top male and female student-athletes of the academic year.

CAPTAINS SELECTED

Columbia selected three captains for the 2016 season: wide receiver Scooter Hollis, quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg and linebacker Christian Conway. All three are seniors and two are transfers from the FBS level.

OFFENSIVE LINE IS TEAM’S MOST EXPERIENCED UNIT

Offensive line is one of Columbia’s most seasoned and experienced position groups. The Lions return four starters, including three starters from the 2015 season. Columbia’s four returning offensive line starters are senior left tackle Kendall Pace, junior right tackle Bewley Wales, senior right guard Nathan Gibbs and sophomore Charlie Flores. These four veterans have combined for 81 career starts.

A four-year starter and leader of the group, Pace is in his senior year after having played/started in 38 games at Columbia. Wales, who started all 10 games at center as a sophomore last year, is making the transition to right tackle. Gibbs started all 10 games last year at right guard. Flores is back at left guard after a one-year hiatus. As a freshman in 2014, he started in five of 10 games played at guard.

Sophomore Tyler Schonewolf has started all eight games this year at center.

LIONS PICKED SEVENTH IN IVY LEAGUE

Columbia was picked to finish seventh out of eight teams in the Ivy League’s annual preseason poll, voted upon by media members covering the conference and announced on August 9, 2016.

Harvard was picked to win the league with seven first place votes and 126 total points, followed by Penn at No. 2 with nine first place votes and 119 total points and No. 3 Dartmouth with 83 points.

Here is a look at the predicted order:

1. Harvard (7 first place votes) 126 points; 2. Penn (9) 119; 3. Dartmouth 83; 4. Yale 81; 5. Princeton 79; 6. Brown (1) 61; 7. Columbia 43; 8. Cornell 20.

PRESEASON ACCOLADES

A total of nine Lions were named to the College Sports Madness preseason All-Ivy League team, headlined by cornerback Jared Katz, who was a first team selection. Wideout Scooter Hollis and linebacker Keith Brady picked up second team honors, while punter Cameron Nizialek, offensive linemen Kendall Pace and Bewley Wales, defensive lineman Dominic Perkovic and linebacker Gianmarco Rea were honorable mention picks.

SECOND STINT

Former Union College Head Coach and current Tight Ends Coach/Passing Game Coordinator John Audino will return to the sidelines at Columbia in the 2016 season. Audino spent the 1977-81 seasons with the Lions, before going on to post a 152-89 record as head coach at Union, leading the Dutchmen to four Liberty League titles and five trips to the D-III playoffs. He took over as head coach at Union after Al Bagnoli departed for Penn.

SIGNAL-CALLING

Ricky Santos takes over as the Quarterbacks Coach  at Columbia for the 2016 season. Santos was the 2006 Walter Payton Award winner as the FCS Player of the Year at New Hampshire, before launching a career in the CFL. He then spent the 2013-15 seasons at his alma mater, guiding first team All-American R.J. Harris as the Wide Receiver Coach and Punt Return Coordinator.

BROTHERLY LOVE

Seniors Jackson and Christian Conway fall in a long line of brothers that were once teammates at Columbia. Junior Turner DeMuth spent two seasons alongside his brother Garrett DeMuth ‘15CC, while senior Keith Brady played on the same team as his brother John Brady ‘15CC.

SEASON NO. 126

This year marks the 145th anniversary of Columbia’s first intercollegiate football game against Rutgers in 1870, one year after the first college game between Rutgers and Princeton. Columbia’s first Ivy League game was against Princeton in 1874. 2016 is the 126th competitive season of Columbia football.

FRIDAY’S ON THE LAWN

Columbia continues its tradition of conducting a Friday walk-through on the university’s main campus lawn prior to home football games. The event is open to the public.