How The Ivy League Is Able To Break the NCAA’s Scholarship Limits and Still Consider Themselves FCS

By now you've seen the results.  In 2018, the Ivy League has taken the FCS by storm.

Perhaps it was Penn's 30-10 defeat of Lehigh a couple of weeks ago.  Or maybe it was Princeton's 50-9 drubbing of another team that made the FCS Playoffs last year, Monmouth.  Or maybe it was Yale's shockingly dominant 35-14 win over nationally-ranked Maine last weekend.

The Ivy League has gone an astounding 12-4 so far in out-of-conference play, many of those wins coming against the Patriot League.

But it's not just against the Patriot League where the Ivy League has excelled. 

Every Ivy League school has at least one out-of-conference victory, which is remarkable since it is only three games into their football season. 

The four losses - Rhode Island over Harvard, Holy Cross over Yale, Delaware over Cornell, and Cal Poly over Brown - were either close losses that could have gone either way or expected blowouts of teams picked to be at the bottom of the Ivy League.

Why the Ivy League, and why now?  How has the Ivy League turned things around, completely, as a league?

The answer appears to lie with three converging trends that every Ivy is starting to exploit to their advantage - increasing the overall number of athletic admits, using their so-called non-scholarship status to make a mockery of the scholarship limits of FCS football, and allowing essentially an unlimited roster size for home games.


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How The Ivy League Is Able To Break the NCAA’s Scholarship Limits and Still Consider Themselves FCS

By now you've seen the results.  In 2018, the Ivy League has taken the FCS by storm.

Perhaps it was Penn's 30-10 defeat of Lehigh a couple of weeks ago.  Or maybe it was Princeton's 50-9 drubbing of another team that made the FCS Playoffs last year, Monmouth.  Or maybe it was Yale's shockingly dominant 35-14 win over nationally-ranked Maine last weekend.

The Ivy League has gone an astounding 12-4 so far in out-of-conference play, many of those wins coming against the Patriot League.

But it's not just against the Patriot League where the Ivy League has excelled. 

Every Ivy League school has at least one out-of-conference victory, which is remarkable since it is only three games into their football season. 

The four losses - Rhode Island over Harvard, Holy Cross over Yale, Delaware over Cornell, and Cal Poly over Brown - were either close losses that could have gone either way or expected blowouts of teams picked to be at the bottom of the Ivy League.

Why the Ivy League, and why now?  How has the Ivy League turned things around, completely, as a league?

The answer appears to lie with three converging trends that every Ivy is starting to exploit to their advantage - increasing the overall number of athletic admits, using their so-called non-scholarship status to make a mockery of the scholarship limits of FCS football, and allowing essentially an unlimited roster size for home games.


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Yale At Lehigh Game Narratives: Into The Unknown

One of the quirks of being a Lehigh fan is that generally, the Mountain Hawks play an Ivy League team in their season opener.  This year, that team is Yale.

This sets the Mountain Hawks up in an odd situation - Lehigh is in their third game, and Yale is an unknown quantity.  It's something that all teams playing against Ivy League teams face, but at times it feels like something that the Patriot League has to deal with more.

Over the years, there's been a back-and-forth debate: who benefits more, the team that's had two weeks to work out the kinks, or the team that has the element of surprise?

“I’d like to believe we have the upper hand," head coach Andy Coen said this week, "because we have played two games and you’d hope that Yale will make some first-game mistakes and we’ll be able to take advantage of them.”

Yale's sophomore QB Kurt Rawlings had a different perspective.

“Being able to go in and have two weeks rather than [against] most teams [when] we only get to prepare for one week [has been a plus],” Rawlings said. “Having two weeks to be able to study up and almost know what they’re going to be showing and doing, is certainly going to help us. … They beat us last season, but I’m really excited. I think we’re going to do pretty good against them.”

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Yale at Lehigh Game Breakdown and Fearless Prediction: Ridiculous, Sublime, Awesome, Or Awful?

We break down the Yale game - and we give our fearless prediction, below the flip.

This week, College Sports Journal picked their order of finish of the Ivy League and the Elis were picked to finish 5th, in contrast to the preseason Ivy League media poll, where they were picked fourth.

"Exhale, Elis, you did it," it said.  "For only the second time in a decade, Yale finally beat their most bitter Rival in The Game, 21-14, giving head coach Tony Reno something pleasant to bring into the offseason for a change.  That win, however, somewhat masks a maddeningly inconsistent 2016, where Yale went 3-7, gave up more than 40 points on defense four times, and somehow managed to lose to Cornell 27-13 at Schoellkopf Field.  The win in The Game will provide hope in New Haven and a good feeling in the offseason, but will it translate into a winning season and an Ivy League title run?"

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Know Your 2017 Opponents: Yale

The 2016 Yale Bulldogs might have experienced the biggest swings of any other school in college football.

They experienced the low of getting destroyed at home against Lehigh, giving up an amazing 63 points to the Mountain Hawks led that day by QB Brad Mayes in a 28 point defeat.

And they were dominated by some of their bigger rivals in Ivy League play, losing 42-7 to Penn and 31-3 to Princeton.

Yet of their three wins, they pulled off two enormous upsets - beating Ivy League title contender Dartmouth at home, 21-13, and finally breaking Harvard's nine year hex against them in "The Game", scoring a touchdown with 4 minutes left to secure a tremendous 21-14 win over their bitter Crimson Rivals.

The Ivy League starts play on September 16th, where Lehigh will find Yale travelling to Murray Goodman Stadium in the Bulldogs first game of the year.

The Mountain Hawks will be playing their third game of the season, and Mayes will be going against the team which he had a record-breaking performance.

The Eli will have had all offseason to bask in the glow of breaking the nine-game winning streak of Harvard against them - and once the enormity of their win over Harvard fades into the distance a little, to focus on avenging last season's 63 points that Lehigh put on them last year.
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