For most college students in Philly, the fall semester is just beginning. With the start of the school year comes the beginning of college football seasons around the country. Here’s what you can expect from teams in the Greater Philadelphia area:
The Ivy League champs (for the eleventh season in a row) are looking to keep the nation’s second-longest winning streak going. After losing its first two games last season, Penn rebounded in a big way, winning its last eight games. In fact, Penn is the only Ivy League team ranked in this preseason’s FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) Now Top 25 poll and the TSN/Fathead Top 25 poll.
Though Penn wasn’t picked as the preseason favorite to win its conference for a record twelfth straight year, the team returns 15 starters, including five from the nation’s top-ranked defense.
With 799 victories, Penn is on its way to becoming only the 11th program in college football history to win 800 games. The team’s schedule this season isn’t too different from that of last year’s, but Penn is looking to start strong against the two teams that beat them last year.
On the following Saturday, the Quakers travel to take on local rival and reigning FCS national champ Villanova, ranked first in several preseason polls. Homecoming will be on October 30, as the team takes on Ivy League foe Brown.
(Though its main campus isn’t exactly in Philly, many Penn State students come from the area, while other students go to the university’s campus in Abington).
The Nittany Lions looks to make a run for the national championship, while legendary coach Joe Paterno looks to create some history of his own.
After two straight 11-2 seasons, the Big Ten powerhouse wants to go all the way this season. The team’s schedule is much like ones in past seasons: a couple non-conference games before the highly competitive conference schedule.
While Penn State starts its season at home with a relatively easy opponent in Youngstown State, the following game will test the team’s chances for a national crown. Mark your calendars: September 11. That’s when the team travels to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide, the reigning national champions.
The Nittany Lions heads back to Beaver Stadium and Happy Valley to wrap up its non-conference schedule, including a game against the much-improved Temple Owls.
As for Joe Pa, the coach, in his forty-fifth season with the team, only needs six more wins to reach 400 for his career. (He already holds the record for most wins as a college football coach, as well as the record for most bowl wins.)
After years of frustrating losing seasons, the Owls are back.
Last year, the team finished the season at 9-4, their best record in thirty years and their first winning record since 1990.
After a close loss to Villanova in the first ever Mayor’s Cup and a blowout loss at the hands of Penn State, the Owls regrouped and rattled off nine straight wins. Temple clinched a share of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division and competed in its first bowl game since that 1979 season.
This season, the team has been picked as the preseason favorite to win the conference. And that’s not all.
Running back Bernard Pierce, last year’s MAC Freshman of the Year, is a serious contender for the prestigious Heisman Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding player at the end of the season. In fact, Temple University is going all out to promote his campaign.
Pierce’s Hunt for the Heisman campaign launched a special website, and if the sophomore can improve on his record-setting numbers this season, there’s no doubt he’ll be considered for the award.
As a freshman, Pierce rushed for more than 1,300 yards and set a school record for rushing touchdowns and overall touchdowns in a season (16). In a win against Navy, he racked up 267 rushing yards; the week before, he tallied 212 rushing yards in a win against Toledo.
Excited about Pierce and the team now? You won’t have to wait too much longer to see them in action. This Friday at 5 P.M., Temple takes on Villanova in this year’s edition of the Mayor’s Cup at Lincoln Financial Field. With both teams in good shape, the game looks like another nail-biter.
The champs are back. The 2009 Football Championship Subdivision national title belongs to Villanova, after years of good seasons with disappointing playoff runs.
The Wildcats (14-1, last season) took care of business against the Montana Grizzlies in a closely contested game and ended the year ranked at the top of the FCS Now Poll. This year, the team finds itself in the same position this preseason: first.
Seventeen starters from last year return to make another championship run. Three of them were named first-team preseason all-Americans, including star wide receiver (and now minor league baseball player) Matt Szczur.
’Nova starts this season just like it did last year. The Mayor’s Cup will usher in the start of college football for both the Wildcats and the Temple Owls. (Tickets to the game are on sale now and start as low as $18.)
The team hosts Penn at Villanova Stadium on September 25 in their annual non-conference bout. Th
e two FCS squads went at it last year, with the Wildcats winning, 14-3. The Quakers look to take revenge and spoil Villanova’s campaign to go undefeated.
Other Local Schools:
The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) is home to several schools in the greater Philadelphia area. The West Chester University Golden Rams are the preseason pick to win the conference, and the team has been ranked in the Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll for the third straight year.
Among the schools in the conference, the Cheyney University Wolves will take on Lincoln at Northeast High School here in Philly on Sunday, while the Millersville Marauders play their first five games of the season at home.
You can contact Steve Jiwanmall at firstname.lastname@example.org.