HANOVER, N.H. — The Ivy League released its 2014 Football Preseason Media Poll today with Dartmouth predicted to finish third, its highest finish in the poll since 1997 when it was pegged for third as well. Princeton edged out Harvard by the slimmest of margins for the top spot with nine first-place votes and 129 points, compared to eight first-place votes and 128 points for the Crimson, after the two shared the conference crown a year ago. It is the closest vote at the top of the poll since Harvard and Yale tied for first in 2008.

The Big Green collected 91 points to handily best the 79 for Penn, which placed fourth in the poll. Yale (68) claimed fifth, just ahead of Brown (65), with Cornell (34) in seventh and Columbia (20) bringing up the rear.

Dartmouth went 5-2 last year in Ivy League play to finish third. One of its two losses came in the longest Ivy League game ever — four overtimes at Penn — and the other was a three-point defeat at Harvard. The Big Green then proceeded to spoil Princeton’s hopes of an outright title by defeating the 19th-ranked Tigers in the thrilling season finale, 28-24.

Dartmouth’s Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens did not get caught up in his team’s highest ranking in nearly two decades as he has loftier goals in mind.

“With all respect to the people doing the poll, but you are rarely right,” Teevens joked with the media during the league’s teleconference call today. “The quality of the product on Saturday is as good as it gets, and this league is extremely competitive top to bottom. Saturday is an opportunity to win, not just show up, and we have set our sights on the championship come the end of the season.”

The Big Green have a strong nucleus of returning players, led by quarterback Dalyn Williams (6-0, 205, Jr.), an All-Ivy League honorable mention pick a year ago when he threw for 1,773 yards and ran for 563 more while combining for 16 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. Already among Dartmouth’s top-10 career leaders in both passing yards and total offense, Williams has a deep roster of receivers to whom he can throw.

One of those targets is another All-Ivy honorable mention in wide receiver Bo Patterson (6-0, 195, Sr.), who led the Green in receptions (25), receiving yards (395) and touchdown catches (6) last year. Ryan McManus (5-11, 195, Sr.) returns to the field after missing most of his junior campaign due to an injury, but as a sophomore he caught 42 passes for 664 yards. Victor Williams (5-8, 170, Jr.) is a dynamic receiver who hauled in 21 throws for 316 yards in seven games in 2013, and Jon Marc Carrier (5-8, 160, So.) was just starting to emerge as a rookie while filling in for others when he too was sidelined by an injury. Then there is Kirby Schoenthaler (5-10, 200, Sr.), who led the receiving corps as a freshman in 2011, but was limited to five games last season.

A void was left at tailback with the graduation of Dominick Pierre, the Big Green’s second all-time leading rusher. But Kyle Bramble (5-10, 200, Jr.) proved his ability last year as he averaged 6.1 yards on his 55 carries in a reserve role, and Brian Grove (5-8, 195, Jr.) has taken the handoff 81 times in his career. Both are also solid receivers out of the backfield to help add variety to the offense. And with an offensive line bringing back four starters, including All-Ivy first-teamer Scotty Whitmore (6-4, 305, Sr.), and center and co-captain Sean Ronan (6-2, 265, Sr.), the tailback duo should find a number of holes through which to run.

The defense that led the Ivy League in fewest points allowed and pass defense brings back nearly the entire line as well as key players in the secondary. Cody Fulleton (6-2, 250, Jr.) and Evan Chrustic (6-4, 285, Sr.) were both named to the All-Ivy Second Team on the defensive line last year  as the pair led the Big Green in tackles for a loss while Fulleton registered a team-best 3.5 sacks.

Although Dartmouth graduated two All-Ivy linebackers, Teevens still has enough experience at the position for him to consider it his team’s greatest strength. With a projected starting group consisting of Eric Wickham (6-1, 230, Sr.), Zach Slafsky (6-1, 230, Jr.) and Will McNamara (6-0, 225, Jr.) and Folarin Orimolade (5-10, 230, So.) a regular reserve, the Big Green have size, speed and talent across the board.

On the corners, All-Ivy second-teamer Vernon Harris (6-1, 195, Jr.) will pair up with Chai Reece (5-10, 175, Sr.), who was the Big Green’s top cover man two years ago but was injured in 2013. Another All-Ivy second-team selection and big-play maker in co-captain Stephen Dazzo (6-0, 225, Sr.) is sliding over to free safety with Troy Donahue (6-0, 205, Sr.) taking over at strong safety on a full-time basis.

Dartmouth, which will be shooting to add to its 17 Ivy League titles — the most among the Ancient 8 schools — opens the season on Sept. 20 when the Green square off for the first time against Central Connecticut State under the lights at Memorial Field at 7 p.m.

Nine of the Big Green’s 10 games this year are available to be streamed live via Big Green Insider, the Dartmouth channel on the Ivy League Digital Network (pending games to be broadcast on television). Northeast Sports Network will team up with the athletics department to bring a professional broadcast of the five home games with Dick Lutsk and Wayne Young ’72 once again calling all of the action for Big Green Insider and on WFRD 99Rock (99.3 FM) in Hanover. Visit IvyLeagueDigitalNetwork.com for more information on how to subscribe.