Football Readies For Critical Harvard Showdown Under Friday Night Lights On NBC Sports Network
Princeton and Harvard were selected as Ivy League co-favorites in the 2017 preseason media poll. On Friday night, one of those teams is going to find itself in a major hole in that championship race — at the hands of the other.
And a national audience will be able to watch it happen live.
NBC Sports Network will televise Friday’s critical showdown between Princeton and Harvard, a pair of one-loss Ivy teams who will bring momentum into this 7:30 pm showdown. Princeton has won its last two games and scored 50 points in both, a feat that the Tigers have accomplished only three times in the last 110 years. Harvard bounced back from its Week 4 loss at Cornell with a home win over Lafayette last weekend, an effort aided by a pair of special teams touchdowns.
Princeton is undefeated on the road this season. Harvard is undefeated at home. Each of their last three wins this season have come against the same teams (Lafayette, Georgetown, and Brown); the Tigers have won those games by an average of 31.3 points, while Harvard has won by an average of 28 points.
If the game didn’t mean anything in the league, it’s still Princeton-Harvard. But it does mean something. The loser will find itself two games back of the Columbia-Dartmouth winner with only four weeks to play. The winner will still have work to do, but they’ll be carrying incredible momentum from this result.
Besides being televised on the NBC Sports Network, the game will be streamed live on both NBC Sports Live and the NBC Sports App, and Tiger fans can also listen live on the Princeton IMG Sports Network (103.3 FM WPRB in Princeton) or through the TuneIn app (search “Princeton IMG Sports Network”).
Lights, Camera, Action
Friday’s game at Harvard will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network, and streamed live on the NBC Sports App. Paul Burmeister (play-by-play) and former Princeton offensive lineman Ross Tucker ’01 (color) will call the action. Fans can listen to Cody Chrusciel and Craig Sachson live on the Princeton IMG Sports Network (103.3 FM WPRB in Princeton) or through the TuneIn app (search “Princeton IMG Sports Network”). The RWJ Barnabas Health pregame show begins 30 minutes prior to kickoff.
Friday Night Lights
The Harvard game will be the sixth Friday game in Princeton football history; the Tigers are 3-2 in those games, including a 10-5 win against Columbia in its most recent game (2015). However, the previous five games were all at home; this game will be the first Friday road game in Princeton history, and only the second Ivy League road night game (Princeton beat Brown 39-17 in 2013).
Princeton is 10-4 in night games (5 pm or later) under head coach Bob Surace.
That Winning Feeling
Princeton is looking for its third road win over Harvard since 1997 Friday night. The Tigers’ other two wins came in 2005 (27-24) and 2013 (51-48, 3ot), and they represented two of Princeton’s best teams over the last two decades.
In the two seasons Princeton won at Harvard since 1997, the Tigers averaged 7.5 wins.
In the eight seasons Princeton lost at Harvard since 1997, they averaged 3.5 wins.
Both Princeton and Harvard come into Friday night with 1-1 records, and history hasn’t been kind to teams with two losses in Ivy play. The last time an Ivy League champion had a 5-2 record was 35 years ago (1982), when Harvard, Penn, and Dartmouth shared the title.
Princeton quarterback Chad Kanoff was 16 days old the last time the Tigers handed Harvard its second Ivy loss (Oct. 22, 1994).
A 50-50 Proposition
Princeton has scored 50 points in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2013 Ivy championship season, and only the third time since 1907.
Playing The Percentages
Senior quarterback Chad Kanoff leads the FCS with a 73.9 completion percentage this season; the Princeton single-season completion percentage record is 68.2 percent, set by reigning NFL Head Coach of the Year Jason Garrett (204 of 299) during the 1988 season. Garrett’s center was Bob Surace.
Armed And Ready
Chad Kanoff enters the Harvard game with 5,500 career passing yards, second-most at Princeton and 21st in Ivy League history (he passed former Harvard standout and NFL veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick two weeks ago). If Kanoff hits his 2017 single-game average of 293 passing yards Friday night, he would move past five players on the Ivy passing list, including Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and former Harvard standout Chris Pizzotti.
IVY LEAGUE PASSING LEADERS
16. Michael Dougherty (Brown), 2005-08 • 5,763 (263)
17. Bill Lazor (Cornell), 1991-93 • 5,697 (197)
18. Chris Pizzotti (Harvard), 2005-08 • 5,675 (175)
19. Mike Mitchell (Penn), 1999-03 • 5,547 (47)
20. Kyle Newhall-Caballero (Brown), 2008-11 • 5,520 (20)
21. Chad Kanoff, 2013-present • 5,500
From Beginning To End (Zone)
Chad Kanoff entered this season with 14 touchdown passes over his first 20 starts. He has thrown 15 over the first five games this season. The Princeton single-season record for touchdown passes is 25, set by Doug Butler in 1983 and matched by Quinn Epperly in 2013.
Kanoff is currently fourth in Princeton history with 29 touchdown passes; he needs two to match Quinn Epperly for third, and six to tie 1951 Heisman Trophy winner Dick Kazmaier, whose number 42 is the only retired number at Princeton. Doug Butler owns the career record with 47 TD passes.
Head Of The Class
Chad Kanoff was recently named a semifinalist for the prestigious William V. Campbell Trophy, one of the top scholar-athlete honors in college football. Candidates for the award must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of eligibility, have a GPA of at least 3.2 on a 4.0 scale, have outstanding football ability as a first-team player or significant contributor and have demonstrated strong leadership and citizenship. The class is selected each year by the NFF Awards Committee, comprised of a nationally recognized group of media, College Football Hall of Famers and athletics administrators.
Run To The Record Book
Junior Charlie Volker set a Princeton record last weekend when he rushed for a 96-yard touchdown in the 53-0 win at Brown. Not only was it a Princeton record, but it was the third-longest rush in Ivy League history, and the longest since David Clark (Dartmouth) scored on a 97-yard run against Princeton on Nov. 19, 1998.
It was also Princeton’s longest rush since a 72-yard end around touchdown by wideout Derek Davis in a 2005 win at Harvard, a game that broke a nine-year Tiger losing streak against the Crimson.
Volker had four rushing touchdowns against Brown. It was the first time a Princeton RB rushed for four TDs since Oct. 2, 1993, when Keith Elias did it against Holy Cross. Eventual Bushnell Cup-winning QBs Quinn Epperly and John Lovettboth rushed for four TDs in a game over the last four years.
Two-sport standout Jesper Horsted became the first Princeton receiver with touchdown catches in four straight games this century. He has six at the midway point of the season; the Tiger record is 11 (Derek Graham, 1983, and Roman Wilson, 2013).
Jesper Horsted leads the Ivy League with 42 catches, ranks second with six receiving touchdowns and ranks fourth with 466 receiving yards. His 42 catches is an average of 8.4 per game, which puts him in the conversation for the Princeton single-season record of 88, set in 1983 by Kevin Guthrie.
Only three receivers in Princeton history have caught at least 80 passes in a season: Guthrie (1983), Roman Wilson (2013), and Derek Graham (1983).
Princeton ranks third in the FCS with a 52.9 third-down conversion percentage this season. The Tigers converted eight of 14 third downs last week, though they were 5 of 7 during the decisive first half.
Princeton scored in the first 15 quarters of the season, a streak that ended after the Tigers hit the 50-point mark against Georgetown, and they scored in each quarter last week. Dating back to last season, the Tigers have scored in 36 of their last 38 quarters; the lone exception was the third quarter of a 31-3 win at Yale and the fourth quarter against Georgetown.
Princeton leads the Ivy League and ranks third in the FCS in rushing defense; the Tigers have allowed only 54.0 rushing yards per game this season. Over the last three games, opposing teams are averaging only 1.6 yards per carry.
Princeton recorded its first road shutout since the 2005 season finale with a 53-0 win at Brown last weekend. Princeton held Brown to 170 total yards and limited the Bears to a 5-of-15 success rate on third downs.
The defense will be put to the test Friday night. In Princeton’s last four games at Harvard Stadium, the Crimson has scored 37, 56, 48, and 42 points.
A Kurt Response
With the graduation of several top defensive teammates last season, and the early-season injuries to both Jake Strainand Mark Fossati, All-America senior Kurt Holuba has drawn the majority of the opposing attention this season. He has still managed four sacks, including two at Brown and one for a safety against Georgetown, a trio of quarterback hurries and 15 tackles this season.
Holuba was a finalist for Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year honors last season, and he had one of the best single-game defensive performances this century against Harvard last year (10 tackles, 3 sacks).
Junior Mike Wagner, who was recruited as a quarterback, has posted three straight multiple-sack games for Princeton over the last three weeks. His 6.5 sacks and 1.60 tackles for loss per game both rank second in the Ivy League.
CJ Wall earned his second Ivy League Rookie of the Week award following a standout effort against Georgetown, which included a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown. Wall, the Ivy League leader with in both passes defended (8) and interceptions (3), is fifth on the team with 22 tackles and has started every game.
He is the first Princeton player to win the Rookie of the Week honor multiple times since 2012, when another rookie cornerback began turning heads in the Ivy League. Anthony Gaffney won the award following Weeks 3 and 5 of the 2012 Princeton season. The previous season, Chuck Dibilio earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors six times.
Junior LB Thomas Johnson, who is tied for fifth in the Ivy League with 36 tackles this season, is the eldest of three Johnson family members on the team. His cousin Sam Johnson is a sophomore projected to be the backup tight end, while Thomas’ younger brother James is a freshman battling for a spot in the linebacker/special teams rotation. Sophomore Will Johnson, who moved from wide receiver to cornerback in the offseason, is not related.
Stay In Your Lane
Junior Simeon Lane moved into the starting lineup at nose tackle following the injury to Jake Strain, and he recorded Princeton’s first blocked field goal against Georgetown since Week 2 of the 2016 season last weekend.
Return To Sender
Princeton sophomore Tiger Bech leads the Ivy League with a kickoff return average of 24.4 yards per return. He will face the Ivy League’s best punt return man in All-Ivy wideout Justice Shelton-Mosley, who earned Special Teams Player of the Week honor after returning a punt for a touchdown last weekend. Two of Harvard’s touchdowns in the Lafayette win came via special teams.
Shelton-Mosley has scored two touchdowns on punt returns this season. Princeton hasn’t scored any on punt returns since 2001.
Princeton has shown impressive discipline this season, especially considering the number of young players finding increased roles. The Tigers rank third in the FCS with only 3.6 penalties per game, and their average of 35.8 penalty yards per game ranks fifth best in the nation.
Princeton head coach Bob Surace ’90 is the reigning Ivy League Coach of the Year, and he is a three-time finalist for FCS National Head Coach of the Year honors. Earlier this season, he earned a win over former teammate and close friend John Garrett ’88, who is in his first year as the head coach at Lafayette.
Princeton has had three players selected in the NFL Draft over the last five years (Mike Catapano ’13, Caraun Reid ’14, and Seth DeValve ’16). Both Reid and DeValve have scored multiple touchdowns in their young NFL careers, and DeValve has ranked among the NFL’s top tight ends through the first month of the season.
The Crystal Ball
Princeton returns home next weekend for another night game on the NBC Sports Network. The Tigers will host Cornell Saturday, Oct. 28, at 7 pm; Princeton has won four straight against Cornell, including a 56-7 win in Ithaca last year.
It will be Family Costume Night at Princeton Stadium; groups that wear Halloween costumes to the stadium will be eligible for an $8 group ticket rate, and there is scheduled to be a halftime costume contest judged by Dean Cain ’88. Also, the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive an exclusive Princeton Football Seat Cushion.
Because the game will be televised on the NBC Sports Network, it will not be available on the Ivy League Network.
|Week 6: Princeton (4-1, 1-1 Ivy) at Harvard (3-2, 1-1 Ivy)|
|Date • Time • Location||Oct. 20, 2017 • 7:30 pm • Harvard Stadium • Cambridge, Mass.|
|Watch Live||NBC Sports Network l NBC Sports Live|
|Tickets||Harvard Ticket Office|
|Radio||103.3 FM l Listen Live on the TuneIn App|
|Game Coverage||Live Stats l @PUTigers l @PUTigerFootball|
|All-Time Series||Princeton leads 54-48-7|
|Last Meeting • Current Streak||Harvard 23, PRINCETON 20 (OT) l Harvard 3 wins|
|Princeton Information||Game Notes l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
|Harvard Information||Game Notes l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
|Ivy League||Standings l Statistics l Weekly Release|
|Last Week||Princeton 53, BROWN 0 l HARVARD 38, Lafayette 10|
|Next Week||Oct. 28: Cornell at Princeton (7 pm • NBC Sports Network)|
Princeton Football • By The Numbers
1 • latest Princeton ranking among universities by U.S. News & World Report
6 • televised Princeton games this season; eight of the 10 games will also be shown on the ILN or ESPN3
9 • Princeton football players who have been awarded Rhodes Scholarships
11 • Ivy League Championships won by Princeton since the league officially formed in 1956
15 • Princeton players picked in the NFL Draft; three were taken in the last five years
22 • career interceptions by Dean Cain, former “Superman” star; total remains an Ivy League record
26 • Princeton players and coaches who are in the College Football Hall of Fame
28 • national titles won by Princeton; no college football program can claim more
42 • number worn by 1951 Heisman Trophy recipient Dick Kazmaier; no Princeton player has worn the number since
43.7 • points per game scored by the Ivy champion 2013 Princeton Tigers; total remains an Ivy League record
72 • Princeton’s total first-team All-America honorees; John Lovett (2016) is the most recent
153 • points Princeton scored during its last four must-win games of the 2016 title season; the opposing teams combined for only 31
193 • career receptions for Kevin Guthrie, the all-time Princeton leader
1869 • the year of the first college football game, played between Rutgers and Princeton
1878 • Princeton’s first “Big Three” title; the University celebrates with a bonfire on Cannon-Green when the Tigers sweep Harvard and Yale
4,208 • career rushing yards for Keith Elias, the Princeton record holder
27,800 • seating capacity at Princeton Stadium, which celebrates its 20th year in 2017, and where our tradition continues this season