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Yale is preseason pick in Ivy football; Harvard third

gregory payan/AP

Yale's Zane Dudek in action against Harvard last November.

By Karl Capen Globe Correspondent 

One season removed from winning the Ivy League football title outright for the first time since 1980, Yale is the pick to defend its crown. The Bulldogs received 11 of 17 first-place votes Monday in a preseason media poll, followed by Princeton and Harvard.

Yale (9-1, 6-1 Ivy in 2017) is eyeing back-to-back titles for the first time since its three-peat from 1979-81. The Bulldogs are favored thanks to the return of sophomore back Zane Dudek (1,133 yards), last year’s Ivy Rookie of the Year and a preseason All-American.

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“Games are won on the field of play by the men who play it,” said Yale coach Tony Reno. “At Yale, our focus is on staying in the present, improving each day, and focusing on what we can control.”

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Princeton, just 5-5, 2-5, in 2017, will be bolstered by the healthy return of senior quarterback John Lovett, the 2016 Offensive Player of the Year in the Ivy who was sidelined last year. Harvard (5-5, 3-4) welcomes back senior guard Larry Allen III and senior receiver/return whiz Justice Shelton-Mosley, both preseason All-Americans.

Ivy preseason poll

With first-place votes in parentheses, followed by total votes.

1. Yale (11)

129

2. Princeton (3)

104

3. Harvard (1)

99

4. Columbia (1)

76

4. Penn (1)

76

6. Dartmouth

65

7. Cornell

37

8. Brown

26