HANOVER, N.H. — The Ivy League released its 2016 Football Preseason Media Poll today with Dartmouth predicted to finish third, one year after finishing in a three-way tie for a share of its first conference crown in 19 years and league-record 18th title overall. The Big Green amassed 83 points in the poll, narrowly ahead of Yale in fourth with 81.
Taking the top two spots in the poll were the two teams that tied Dartmouth atop the 2015 standings. Harvard collected 126 points with seven first-place votes, while Penn — despite receiving more first-place votes with nine — claimed second with 119 points.
Heading up the bottom half of the poll was Princeton two points behind Yale (79), followed up by Brown (61) with the other first-place vote, Columbia (43) and Cornell (20).
Buyer beware, however, as the media does not have a stellar track record of picking the future Ivy champion. Last year was just the third time in the last 19 seasons that the preseason favorite (Harvard) earned at least a share of the title, joining Penn in 2003 and Harvard again in 2008. Better news for the Big Green is that in each of the past seven seasons, they have finished higher in the final standings than was predicted by the media.
Dartmouth was 6-1 last year in Ivy League play to earn its share of the crown, and 9-1 overall for its best record since a perfect 10-0 campaign in 1996. The Big Green defense led all of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in points allowed (10.1) and turnovers gained (32), while the offense racked up nearly 29 points a game. Eight players earned a spot on the All-Ivy League First Team
While it is true that Dartmouth likely suffered the heaviest losses due to graduation as a total of 17 starters on offense and defense finished up their careers, Robert L. Blackman Head Football Coach Buddy Teevens has a deep and talented roster to fill the gaps and keep the Green competing for a league championship.
Heading up the returning cast is senior tri-captain Folarin Orimolade (5-11, 240), the lone first-team All-Ivy player remaining from last year’s squad. Named to the STATS Defensive Player of the Year Watch List and an FCS Preseason All-American, the linebacker had the second-most sacks and tackles for a loss in the conference last year.
Although Orimolade is the lone returning starter, the defensive line has plenty of experience thanks to Teevens consistently rotating fresh linemen into games. Senior Brandon Cooper (6-1, 270), another tri-captain, will anchor the line, while senior safety Charlie Miller (6-0, 185) and senior corner Danny McManus (5-9, 175) have proven themselves in the defensive backfield.
On the other side of the ball, Dartmouth will have to replace a record-setting quarterback, its top two receivers, two of its three best running backs and three linemen. During spring practice, sophomore Bruce Dixon IV (6-4, 230) moved to the top of the depth chart behind center despite having thrown just three collegiate passes as a rookie last year.
Junior Ryder Stone (5-11, 205) led the team in rushing last year while senior receivers Houston Brown (6-1, 170) and Jon Marc Carrier (5-11, 175) combined for 40 catches, 568 yards and five touchdowns. The Big Green also have a bevy of accomplished tight ends, led by juniors Cameron Skaff (6-4, 245) and Stephen Johnston (6-4, 235). The third captain, senior Dave Morrison (6-5, 305), and senior Zach Davis (6-6, 310) will form a veteran duo on the right side of the offensive line as well.
All of the kickers return for Dartmouth, including two-time All-Ivy Second Team senior punter Ben Kepley (6-2, 185). Senior Alex Gakenheimer (6-3, 190), a second-team All-Ivy selection two years ago, looks to regain that placekicking form.
Dartmouth opens the season on Sept. 17 when in-state rival and preseason No. 22 New Hampshire comes to Memorial Field in Hanover for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
|2016 Ivy League
Preseason Media Football Poll
|Rank||Team (1st-place votes)||Points|