NO. 15 PRINCETON READY FOR ESPNU CONTEST AT CORNELL
PREVIEW: #15 Princeton (6-0, 3-0 Ivy) at Cornell (1-5, 0-3)
By Craig Sachson
Princeton football fans will talk about last week’s 18-16 5OT victory for years. Princeton football players stopped talking about by Sunday night.
The culture within the Princeton locker room is all about looking forward, not backward. That’s all the more meaningful this week, as the Tigers will have one less day of preparation before Friday night’s nationally televised showdown with the Cornell Big Red (7 pm, ESPNU) in Ithaca, N.Y.
Princeton moved to #15 in the latest AFCA Coaches Poll following its thrilling victory over Harvard, and it enters Week 7 alone in first place in the Ivy League standings. It’s a tenuous position though, as four teams are tied for second place with 2-1 records, and two of those teams will play Princeton in November.
Cornell isn’t one of those teams in the thick of the Ivy League race, but the Big Red isn’t that far off from being a title contender. The Big Red is 0-3 in Ivy play, but they were within one score of Yale, Harvard and Brown in the final two minutes of regulation in all three losses. Big plays have killed Cornell this season — Brown had two touchdowns of at least 30 yards in the final 2:27 last weekend — but the Big Red has shown impressive resilience throughout the season.
Princeton knows that it is now the hunted, a position it has some familiarity with. Knocking off the Ivy’s lone unbeaten can be a season-defining win for any team, especially one that can do it in front a national audience. But the Tigers have risen to the occasion time and again, and there is no reason to think they won’t be fully prepared for the challenge coming Friday night.
WEEK 7 NOTES
24 Hours • Princeton enters Friday night having won 24 of its last 26 games dating back to the start of the perfect 2018 season. The last time the Tigers won 24 of 26 games was 1963-1965, which included the perfect season (1964). If Princeton defeats Cornell and extends its run to 25 of 27 games, it will match Princeton’s best run since 1950-53, a time period that includes Dick Kazmaier’s Heisman Trophy-winning 1951 season.
Pleading The Fifth • Collin Eaddy moved into fifth place on the all-time Princeton rushing list last weekend, and he is 200 yards away from moving into a share of third place on the list (see below). Eaddy has had games with 1, 2, 3, and 4 rushing touchdowns this season, and his career total of 28 rushing touchdowns is tied for seventh at Princeton. Eaddy recorded two rushing touchdowns in his only other visit to Schoellkopf Field, a 21-7 win over Cornell on ESPNU in 2019.
1. Keith Elias, 4,208
2. Judd Garrett 3,109
3. Cameron Atkinson 2,449 (200)
4. Hank Bjorklund 2,362 (113)
5. Collin Eaddy 2,249
Tackling The Issue • The best players make their mark in the biggest games, and 2019 Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year finalist Jeremiah Tyler certainly had a dramatic impact in last week’s win over Harvard. The senior linebacker led Princeton with 12 tackles (10 solo) and added two breakups and 1.5 tackles for loss in the 18-16 win. Cornell fans may have scary memories of Tyler from his last trip to Ithaca; he recorded 11 tackles, including an incredible 4.5 for losses, and added 1.5 sacks and a pass breakup in the win.
For the season, Tyler leads the Ivy League in solo tackles (32) and ranks seventh in total tackles (39).
Passing Fancy • Senior quarterback Cole Smith is making the most of his first year as a starter. He has led Princeton to the top-ranked scoring offense in the Ivy League (34.5 points/game), as well as the second-ranked total offense (422 yards/game) and passing offense (294 yards/game). His favorite target is classmate Jacob Birmelin, who leads the Ivy League in catches (41) and receiving yards (565) this season. His most memorable catch, however, isn’t included in those totals — he made the leaping grab over a Harvard defender in the fifth overtime for the winning two-point conversion in the 18-16 win over Harvard last week.
Flag Football • Princeton has been one of the Ivy League’s least penalized teams over the last few years, and that trend has continued this season. The Tigers have committed only 20 penalties through six games, seven fewer than the next closest team, and they have less than half the penalties as three other teams in the league. After six penalties in the season opener, Princeton hasn’t had more than four penalties in any game this season; in comparison, five of the six Tiger opponents this season have had more than four penalties in losses to Princeton.
Flying Coach • Princeton head coach Bob Surace, a four-time finalist for the Eddie Robinson Jr. National Head Coach of the Year Award, is one of two Tiger football coaches to record at least 60 wins over the last six decades. Surace has 62 wins, fifth-most in program history, and is eight wins behind Charlie Caldwell, who coached Dick Kazmaier and led the 1950 Tigers to the program’s 28th national championship.
Surace has a 58.5% win percentage at Princeton, but that total includes a 2-20 start at his alma mater. Since Week 3 of the 2012 season, Surace has posted a win percentage of 71.4% (60-24); the only Princeton head coach to win more than 60 games and post a win percentage above 70% is the legendary Bill Roper, who led the Tigers to the 1906 and 1911 national championships.