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Harvard Chosen to Defend as Football Champion in 2012

Harvard head coach Tim Murphy and his 2011 championship team celebrate with the Ivy League trophy.
Harvard head coach Tim Murphy and his 2011 championship team celebrate with the Ivy League trophy.

2012 Ivy League Football Media Day Central:
Preseason Honors | Media Day Teleconference | Television Schedule

PRINCETON, N.J. -- The preseason prognostications are in and, for the fourth time in five seasons, Harvard was the preseason choice to capture the 2012 Ivy League football title.

Harvard (9-1, 7-0 Ivy League in 2011) received 13 of the 17 first-place votes and a total of 132 points from the panel of media representatives. The Crimson has won six Ivy League championships (five outright) and had two undefeated seasons while posting the Football Championship Subdivision's second-highest winning percentage over the past 14 seasons.

Leading Harvard into its 2012 title defense will be the versatile Kyle Juszczyk, a preseason All-America selection by several media publications. Juszczyk will again be a matchup problem for Crimson opponents as he can play virtually every down at H-back, tight end, slot or wide receiver and is slated to be key contributor on all special teams units.

Penn (5-5, 4-3 Ivy) and Cornell (5-5, 3-4 Ivy) each received two first-place votes with the Quakers placing second with 111 points and the Big Red close behind in third with 100 points. Penn has been selected in the top half of the preseason poll for 20 straight years (since 1993), while Cornell was predicted to end the season among the top four teams for just the fourth time since 2000 (t-1st in 2000, 4th in 2001 and 2006).

Penn's 2012 squad will be paced by the dual threat of senior signal-caller Billy Ragone on offense and team captain and senior defensive lineman Brandon Copeland anchoring the Quakers on defense.

A preseason All-America selection by various media outlets as well and one of 20 initial nominees for the 2012 Walter Payton Award, Cornell junior quarterback Jeff Mathews returns under center for the Big Red after a record-setting season that culminated in being the first sophomore to be named Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year and to receive the Asa S. Bushnell Cup.

With 84 points, Brown (7-3, 4-3 Ivy) landed in the top half of the preseason poll for the eighth time in nine years. The Bears will look to their undisputed leader on defense, senior defensive back A.J. Cruz, who is also a threat in special teams as one of the League's top kickoff returners, to battle among the title contenders this season. 

Yale (5-5, 4-3 Ivy) paced the second half of the poll in fifth place with 66 points, followed by Dartmouth (5-5, 4-3 Ivy) in sixth with 52 points, Columbia (1-9, 1-6 Ivy) in seventh with 36 points and Princeton (1-9, 1-6 Ivy) in eighth with 31 points. 


First-Place Votes in Parentheses

Rank School Points
1. Harvard (13)
2. Penn (2)
3. Cornell (2)
4. Brown
5. Yale
6. Dartmouth
7. Columbia