BACK IN BOSTON – #18 PRINCETON RETURNS TO HARVARD WITH HOPES OF REPEAT RESULT
Making back-to-back trips to Harvard, which is the result of the Ivy League shifting its schedule this season, is far from the norm for Princeton. Let’s face it, though … this season has been anything but ordinary.
The 18th-ranked Princeton football team (5-0, 2-0 Ivy) opens the second half of its Ivy League season this Saturday at noon when the Tigers take on the Harvard Crimson (3-2, 1-1). The two programs have split the last six meetings, including last year’s 52-17 Princeton victory on national TV. Three of the last six meetings have been decided by an average of 37.3 points (including two Harvard wins); the other three have been classics, including overtime wins for both Princeton and Harvard and the greatest comeback in 50 years of Princeton football.
Both teams come into the game with momentum; the Tigers are riding their first season-opening five-game win streak since 2006, while Harvard has the momentum of a thrilling last-second win over Holy Cross last weekend. Harvard hasn’t lost back-to-back home games since the early 1990s, though a Princeton team that ranks in the national Top 10 in both scoring offense and scoring defense should give the Tigers their best chance to match that feat.
Saturday’s game officially opens the second half of the Ivy League season for both programs, a five-game league stretch that will determine just how extraordinary this season will be for either program. Princeton has put together one half of football that can stand up to almost any other in program history — but that’s all it is, one half.
|Week 6: #18 Princeton (5-0, 2-0 Ivy) at Harvard (3-2, 1-1 Ivy)|
|Date • Time • Location||Oct. 20, 2018 • 12 pm • Harvard Stadium|
|Tickets||Harvard Ticket Office|
|Radio||103.3 FM l Listen Live on the TuneIn App|
|Game Coverage||Live Stats l @PUTigerFootball l @PUTigers|
|All-Time Series||Princeton leads 55-48-7|
|Last Meeting • Current Streak||Princeton 52, HARVARD 17 (2017) l Princeton 1|
|Princeton Information||Note Packet (coming Friday) l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
|Harvard Information||Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
|Ivy League||Standings l Statistics l Weekly Release|
|Last Week||PRINCETON 48, Brown 10 l HARVARD 33, Holy Cross 31|
|Next Week||Cornell at Princeton • Oct. 27, 2018 • 1 pm • ESPN+|
Lights, Camera, Action
Princeton opens the second half of the Ivy League season this Saturday, Oct. 20, when it travels to Cambridge, Mass., to take on Harvard. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ (see link above). Fans can also listen to Cody Chrusciel (play by play) and Craig Sachson (analyst) call the game on TuneIn radio and WPRB 103.3 FM.
Stephen Carlson is the guest on the latest guest on the Original Eleven, which you can listen to below. He talks about Kevin Davidson, his incredible 15-game stretch, jump balls and staying humble.
Rank & File
Princeton is tied with North Carolina A&T for 18th in the AFCA FCS Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, and it moved to #23 in the STATS FCS Top 25 media poll. This is Princeton’s first time inside the Top 20 in either poll since Nov. 18, 2013, after Princeton had clinched a share of the Ivy League title with a 59-23 win over Yale. It is also the highest Princeton has been ranked since Oct. 23, 2006, when it moved to #15 in the national poll following a 31-28 win over Harvard.
Princeton is 5-0 for only the second time since 1995 (2006), and it is riding its second-longest win streak since that 2006 season (8, 2013).
Princeton ranks second nationally in scoring defense (8.6 points/game), sixth nationally in total defense (253.0 yards/game), and seventh nationally in rushing defense (85.6 yards/game). The last time Princeton held its first five opponents in a season to 10 points or fewer was 1935, a team led by head coach Fritz Crisler and captain Pepper Constable, who placed fourth in the Heisman voting.
The last time Princeton held five straight opponents to 10 or fewer points at any stretch of the season was 1964, done by Dick Colman’s eventual Ivy League championship team, and the last Princeton team to hold its first five opponents to fewer than 43 points in the first five games of the season was 1965 (33 points).
Senior linebacker and co-captain Mark Fossati earned his first Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week honor following the 48-10 win over Brown. The Garden State native led Princeton with 12 tackles, including two for loss, and a sack in Saturday’s 48-10 victory over Brown, and he earned the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week award for that performance. Fossati now ranks sixth in the Ivy League with 7.8 tackles per game.
All-America defensive lineman and team co-captain Kurt Holuba suffered a preseason injury and will miss the remainder of the season.
There are only four teams in the FCS that enter this weekend undefeated, including top-ranked North Dakota State. The other three are Colgate (Top 20 in both polls) and a pair of Ivy League teams, Princeton and Dartmouth.
Princeton hasn’t lost a single quarter in 2018, and it’s only tied one of 20 quarters played this season (1st quarter vs. Lehigh; Princeton would win that game 66-7). This is the average lead Princeton has had at the end of quarters this season: 1st – 9.2; 2nd – 26; 3rd – 36.8; 4th – 43.4.
The last Princeton team to score more than 260 points in the first five games of a season was the 1888 team, which scored 319. Princeton will have a tough time catching that 1888 team moving forward; its next 3 games went like this: 38-0 over Penn, 82-0 over Rutgers, 104-0 over Johns Hopkins.
Princeton has been the least penalized team in the nation this season. The Tigers lead the entire FCS in both penalties per game (2.8) and penalty yards per game (22.4).
Driven For Success
Princeton has had more drives result in a touchdown (35) than every other possible result combined (23). Of the 23 other results, nine of them ended in either a field goal (five) or the end of a half (four).
Junior Kevin Davidson made his first collegiate start at quarterback last week after John Lovett suffered an injury against Lehigh. He completed 26 of 39 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-10 win over Brown.
You Gotta Lovett
John Lovett, the 2016 Ivy League Player of the Year, leads the FCS in both points responsible for per game (27.5) and rushing yards per carry (8.98), and he ranks second in passing efficiency (187.5). The Princeton single-season record-holder for rushing touchdowns (20, 2016), he needs only three more to match Quinn Epperly ’15 for second on the career list with 38; Keith Elias ’94 holds the Princeton record with 49.
Lovett ranks in the Ivy League Top 3 in both rushing yards (101.0) and passing yards (233.0) per game this season. No other player is even in the Top 10 in both categories.
Jesper Horsted caught 12 passes in the first half of last weekend’s 48-10 win over Brown, and he ended the game with 13 catches for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Princeton’s all-time leader in touchdown catches (23), Horsted now ranks third in career receptions (159) and fourth in career receiving yards (2192). In order to finish his career with both of those records as well, Horsted would need to average 6.8 catches and 121.2 receiving yards per game over the final five weeks.
The best game of Jesper Horsted’s career — and there have been plenty of options — came last season at Harvard Stadium, when he posted personal bests in both catches (13) and yards (246) in a 52-17 win at Harvard, the Crimson’s biggest home Ivy loss in 50 years.
Head Of The Class
Jesper Horsted was named one of the national semifinalists for the 2018 William V. Campbell Trophy, an award that recognizes an individual as the top football scholar-athlete in the nation. Candidates for the awards must be a senior or graduate student in their final year of playing 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.
Senior Stephen Carlson has caught five touchdown passes over the last four games, including a pair of scores in the Ivy opener against Columbia, and another last weekend against Brown. He is now tied for third on Princeton’s career TD receptions list with 16, joining the likes of Kevin Guthrie ’84 and Roman Wilson ’14. All of this came over a span of 15 games; prior to his junior season, Carlson had made two career catches for Princeton.
It Was A Good One
Jesper Horsted and Stephen Carlson have combined for 68 receptions this season, and they are the only two players in the Ivy League with more than 500 receiving yards in 2018. The duo has basically done all of its damage over a span of 3/4 this season; only one of their 68 combined catches has come in the fourth quarter of a game — a 13-yard touchdown catch by Carlson in the first play of the final quarter against Monmouth.
Born To Run
Senior running back Charlie Volker, who has Ivy League titles in both football and track & field, moved into seventh on the all-time Princeton rushing touchdown list last weekend when he scored twice, his 26th and 27th career scores. He needs one more to catch Ellis Moore, and three more to match College Football Hall of Famer Cosmo Iacavazzi. Volker will see one of the few players ahead of him in the Ivy League rushing race this weekend. The Princeton senior ranks fourth in the Ivy League with 90.0 yards per game, but Harvard sophomore Aaron Shampklin leads the league with 131 yards per game. Volker does have the edge in both rushing touchdowns (8) and yards per carry (8.8)
Princeton ranks third nationally in third-down conversion percentage (53.3%) and fifth in the nation in fourth-down percentage (83.3%). In the last two games, the Tigers have converted 58% (15 for 26) of their third downs, and 100% (4 for 4) of their fourth downs. For the season, Princeton has as many fourth-down conversions (10) as it has punts.
The Wright Stuff
Princeton sophomore Samuel Wright had a pair of sacks in the Tigers’ 48-10 win over Brown last weekend, and he took over the team lead with 3.5 sacks after the weekend. He also moved inside the Top 10 in the Ivy League in tackles for loss (4.0).
While Princeton doesn’t have a single player with more than 40 tackles this season, it has 10 different players with at least two tackles for loss on the year, and five with multiple sacks. Among that group is Mike Wagner, who has three sacks this season after suffering a season-ending injury midway through his junior year. Junior Joey DeMarco leads all defensive linemen with 19 tackles this season, and he also has 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Head coach Bob Surace, a three-time finalist for FCS Coach of the Year honors and one of two men to win an Ivy League title as both a coach and player, went over the .500 mark as a Princeton head coach for the first time in his career with the win over Brown. That is made all the more remarkable by the fact that Surace went 2-20 in his first 22 games at his alma mater.
Seth DeValve ’16 became Princeton’s highest-drafted player in the modern era when the Cleveland Browns selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He entered his third season with 70 catches and three touchdowns for the Browns, where he plays tight end. Chad Kanoff ’18, the reigning Ivy Offensive Player of the Year, signed a contract with the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason and made the team’s practice squad. Two weeks ago, Caraun Reid ’14 signed a contract with the Dallas Cowboys.
The new partnership between the Ivy League and ESPN means that all Princeton home games, as well as Ivy League road games, will be streamed live on ESPN+; that partnership extends throughout all Princeton sports, meaning the majority of Princeton home games will be streamed at ESPN+. A monthly ($4.99) or yearly ($49.99) subscription is less expensive than the Ivy League Network subscription would be, and it gives you access to the full platform of live events and other features of ESPN+.
There are two weekly podcasts during the football season for Princeton fans. The “Original Eleven” returns for its second season, and it will be available at the beginning of each game week (typically Monday, Tuesday at the latest) to recap the previous game and chat with a member of the team. The new “Bob Surace Show” will be available Thursday nights as a replay of the radio show held each earlier that night at Alchemist & Barrister in Princeton. You can have both podcasts downloaded automatically — as well as the full library of Princeton Athletics podcasts — by subscribing to “Princeton Tigers.”
The Crystal Ball
Princeton returns to Powers Field next Saturday for a 1 pm game against Cornell on ESPN+. The Big Red ended a Princeton three-game win streak last season with a dramatic 29-28 comeback win, which included a 43-yard field goal by Nickolas Null in the final minute that gave the Big Red its winning margin. That game will start a season-closing four-game stretch for the Tigers in which three will be played at Princeton Stadium.