The Ivy League features much of the Northeast’s top FCS talent. With a treasured Ivy championship being each team’s ultimate, season-ending goal absent the conference permitting FCS playoff participation, the title chase once again appears stacked with the power quartet of Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Dartmouth leading the way.
Columbia, which was 7-3 overall in 2021, including a 19-0 victory at then-No. 25 Dartmouth and a one-possession loss at Yale, is the primary candidate to crash that party.
Returning All-Conference Players
From last season’s All-Ivy Team
Yale – 8: DB Wande Owens (2nd team), DB Miles Oldacre (HM), DL Reid Nickerson (HM), DL Clay Patterson (1st team), OL Kiran Amegadjie (HM), P Jack Bosman (2nd team), RB Spencer Alston (HM), WR Mason Tipton (2nd team)
Harvard – 6: DB James Herring (2nd team), DB Alex Washington (1st team), DL Nate Leskovec (2nd team), K Jonah Lipel (1st team), LB Jack McGowan (1st team), RB Aidan Borguet (2nd team)
Princeton – 6: DL Uche Ndukwe (2nd team), OL Henry Byrd (1st team), P Will Powers (1st team), TE Carson Bobo (1st team), WR Andrei Iosivas (2nd team), WR Dylan Classi (HM)
Dartmouth – 5: DL Shane Cokes (2nd team), LB Marques White (2nd team), QB Nick Howard (1st team), RS Jamal Cooney (HM), WR Paxton Scott (HM)
Brown – 4: LB Junior Gafa (2nd team), RB Allen Smith (HM), WR Wes Rockett (2nd team), WR Graham Walker (HM)
Columbia – 3: K Alex Felkins (2nd team), LB Scott Valentas (2nd team), RB Ryan Young (HM)
Penn – 3: DL Micah Morris (HM), DL Jake Heimlicher (HM), OL Trevor Radosevich (2nd team)
Cornell – 2: LB Jake Stebbins (1st team), WR Thomas Glover (1st team)
Returning HERO Sports All-Americans
From last season
Harvard – 1: DL Thor Griffith (Fresh.)
Brown – 1: WR Graham Walker (Soph.)
Yale – 1: DL Clay Patterson (Soph.)
Names To Know
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYER: Nick Howard, Dartmouth QB — Howard is the Big Green’s big weapon, especially on the ground: The Green Bay native was the Ivy’s third-leading rusher and ranked sixth nationally in rushing touchdowns with 15 in 2021. His efficiency is to be noted, too, as last fall’s 6.3 yards per carry is the third-highest average in Dartmouth history and was the conference’s best. Defenses will be charged with slowing Howard’s rushing rate to get Dartmouth off the field before the Big Green can consume time of possession weekly.
TOP DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Jack McGowan, Harvard LB — McGowan racked up 50 total tackles a season ago while leading Harvard with 30 solo stops. Toss in his seven tackles for loss, one sack, and two interceptions, and it is all the more apparent why Ivy League offensive coordinators will be prone to scheming away from No. 54 in Crimson.
THE NFL PROSPECT: Andrei Iosivas, Princeton WR — An explosive-play machine, Iosivas punished opponents with 17.1 yards per reception in 2021. Princeton’s leader with five touchdown catches, Iosivas is on the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl 1000, a top scouting list of prospects in consideration for selection to the East-West Shrine Bowl all-star showcase game.
Predicted Order of Finish
Harvard and Dartmouth are neck-and-neck, as I had the Big Green just one slot behind the Crimson in my HERO Sports FCS Preseason Top 25 ballot. The duo tied in the Ivy League preseason poll with exactly 108 points each. When Harvard travels to Dartmouth Oct. 29, it could very well be for the inside track to an outright Ivy championship.
However, Princeton is likely the strongest fourth-place team among expected No. 4 finishers in all conferences that I have profiled this preseason. The Tigers tie for the second-most all-Ivy returnees and have the benefit of hosting Dartmouth the week after the Big Green deal with Harvard.
Speaking of scheduling notes, my preseason league No. 1 Harvard gets top tests Holy Cross (out of conference), Princeton, Yale, and sleeper Columbia in Cambridge. The lone road task that is nationally notable for the Crimson is the aforementioned October spotlight matchup with Dartmouth. It will be circled on calendars the same number of times that I have circled back to it here.