Football at Columbia

by Brad Parks | 11/5/93 6:00am

It's fairly rare that you head to a football game hoping it turns into a 41-7 blowout.

But after two weeks in which the Dartmouth football team effectively doubled the blood pressure of anyone who dared to enter the heart-pounding confines of Memorial Field, that's just what anyone who is making the trip down to New York City for the Big Green's match-up with the Columbia Lions is hoping for -- a boring, reach-for-the-No-Doz thrashing.

Even the Miracle Man himself, Jay Fiedler '94, admitted at the end of last week's 39-34 come-from-17-points-down clipping of Harvard that, "We have to stop doing this to ourselves."

Dartmouth (4-3 overall, 3-1 Ivy League) certainly couldn't have a more apt candidate for a trouncing. Columbia, a perenielly Ivy League doormat, is once again getting covered with mud on a weekly basis.

The Lions have allowed an average of nearly 30 points a game this year, while scoring in double-digits only twice in their hapless 1-6 1993 campaign.

But as maligned as Columbia's pig skin program may be, it's still a game Dartmouth cannot afford to look past and cannot afford to lose.

Not that the Big Green aren't more than used to walking the title tightrope with a blindfold on and weights tied to their ankles. But they've so far played they role of escape artist with all the skill of Houdini.

Still, inconsistencies have thoroughly plagued Dartmouth to the extent that many wonder what kind of team this really is.

True, a mere 17 points in all the right places and the Big Green is undefeated. But it's also true that a pair of freak plays are all that separate this team from being 2-5 and completely out of the race for anything but the Disapointment of the Year Award.

It all makes for a somewhat tenuous claim to legitimacy.

And while the Big Green won't particularly impress anyone with a double-digit dousing of Columbia -- especially with the eyes of the league fixed on the battle of undefeated Penn and Princeton in Philadelphia -- the team will at least prove to itself it can put together four solid quarters of football.

The last time Dartmouth was able to accomplish that was three weeks ago in a 31-14 win over a listless Yale squad. Not surprisingly, in that game, Pete Oberle '96 led a potent Dartmouth ground attack as 142 yards of turf flashed under his talented toes.

Since then, Dartmouth's running scheme, while not entirely stalled, has not been as consistent as Lyons would like.

"We haven't been able to establish our running game," Lyons said. "We've only been effective running the ball after we've loostened up the defense with the pass. It should be the other way around."

It won't be as easy to push around Columbia's front four as it was to push the Yale Bullpuppies' d-line on its back. Still, the Lions defensive line is the only strength of an otherwise porous defense that is allowing an average of 453 yards a game of total yardage.

On the other side of the ball, Columbia simply does not have the offensive weapons of a Cornell or a Harvard. And since the defenses' lapses of late have been more mental -- missed assignments, missed tackles, poor concentration -- than physical, the team just has to apply itself to be able to limit Columbia to another single digit day.

Let the slaughter begin.