Week 8 Preview: #16 Princeton (7-0) at Dartmouth (6-1)
By Craig Sachson
Head coach Bob Surace has led the Princeton football team for the last 12 years, and he has experienced as many thrills as any leader of this program since the first half of the 20th century. Ivy League championships? Check. Multiple nationally ranked teams? Check. NFL-bound players? Check. The elusive perfect season? Check.
A pleasant ride home from Dartmouth? That box remains painfully empty.
Princeton is winless in its last four trips to Memorial Field, and 0-5 in its last five road games against the Big Green (including the 2019 game at Yankee Stadium). The four losses at Dartmouth have basically been one-score games (the 2017 one ended 54-44 because Princeton tried for a miracle special teams return on the final play, which ended as a Dartmouth touchdown), and they have ranged from offensive shootouts (2017) to grind-it-out defensive battles (17-10 in 2015).
One of these two teams has won the Ivy League championship in three of the last four years, and the winner this year will be in good position to extend that streak to four in five. Princeton would be in especially good position, since it is the only unbeaten in league play right now, but a Dartmouth win would assure the Big Green a share of first place by the end of the weekend.
Without playoffs and bowl games on the horizon, November truly is THE month for Ivy League football. A champion will get crowned before Thanksgiving, and all Ivy eyes will be on ESPNU Friday night (6 pm) when these two teams continue one of the most intense current rivalries in the sport — in a milestone game, no less (more on that later).
But these players don’t care about the history — not the first game in 1897, or the thrilling showdowns from the last few years. And they would be wise to not worry about the future, and what could happen in the rest of the Ivy League race.
This game will be all about succeeding in the moment. Each team has forced the other to bring its best to win, which has led to several dramatic showdowns. There is no reason to expect anything less Friday night.
WEEK 8 NOTES
Milestone Meeting • This will be the 100th meeting between Princeton and Dartmouth. The series began October 30, 1897 with a 30-0 Princeton home victory, and it served as the season finale for both teams from 1990 until the Ivy schedule changed before the 2018 season. Dartmouth is one of two Ivy League teams to have the series advantage over Princeton (50-45-4), and it has won eight of the last 10 meetings (including five straight at home).
Winning Ways • Princeton has won 25 of its last 27 games, the best stretch over that period of time since the 1950-1952 seasons, which included Princeton’s last national championship (1950) and the Heisman Trophy season for Dick Kazmaier ’52 (1951).
Getting Offensive • Princeton enters November with the top-ranked scoring offense in the Ivy League (36.9 points/game). The Tigers have Ivy-best totals in both touchdowns (31) and field goals (13). Senior running back Collin Eaddy is the only player in the Ivy League with double-digit touchdowns (10). Speaking of Eaddy …
Moving Up The Charts • Collin Eaddy currently ranks fifth all-time on the Princeton rushing list with 2,312 yards, and he could move up at least one spot this weekend. Eaddy is 50 yards behind Hank Bjorklund for fourth place and 137 behind Cameron Atkinson for third. The two all-time rushing leaders, Keith Elias and Judd Garrett, both have a connection to head coach Bob Surace, who played with and blocked for Garrett, and hosted Elias on his recruiting trip to Princeton.
- Keith Elias 4,208
- Judd Garrett 3,109
- Cameron Atkinson 2,449 (137)
- Hank Bjorklund 2,362 (50)
- Collin Eaddy 2,312
Getting Good Reception • Princeton senior Jacob Birmelin, whose winning catch against Harvard in the fifth overtime will be an all-time program highlight, leads the Ivy League with 45 catches and ranks second with 597 receiving yards. Junior Andrei Iosivas ranks third in the Ivy League in receiving yards (558) and second in touchdown catches (five). Senior Dylan Classi is also inside the Ivy League Top 10 in receiving yards (7th, 444).
Pass It Around • In his first year as a starter, Cole Smith ranks second in the Ivy League in completions (131), passing yards (1,912) and passing touchdowns (11). He has the league’s highest efficiency rating (153.7); the second-highest efficiency rating belongs to Dartmouth’s Derek Kyler, who leads the Ivy League in both completion percentage (68%) and fewest interceptions (one).
Top Of The Charts • The two defenses that have allowed the fewest yards this season will be on the field Friday night. Dartmouth ranks first in total defense after allowing only 257.0 yards per games this season, while Princeton is second with 268.6 yards allowed per game. Not surprisingly, these two teams have also allowed the fewest first downs (Dartmouth 14.3, Princeton 15.3), and both also rank in the top three in fewest points allowed (Dartmouth 14.6, Princeton 15.6).
Tackling The Issue • Senior Jeremiah Tyler, the 2019 finalist for Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year honors, leads Princeton with 6.3 tackles per game, and leads the Ivy League in solo tackles with 39, six more than any other player in the league. He scored the second touchdown of his Tiger career last weekend on a 36-yard fumble return during a rainy Friday night 34-16 win at Cornell.
Something Special • Princeton has been especially strong in the kicking game this year. Junior Will Powers, a 2019 All-Ivy punter, leads the league with an average of 45.7 yards per punt; that total would rank fifth nationally if he had enough punts to qualify. Freshman placekicker Jeffrey Sexton leads the Ivy League in both field goals made (13) and field goal percentage (81.3), and he has the second-longest field goal of the season (46 yards).
Coach Talk • The two head coaches in this game, Princeton’s Bob Surace and Dartmouth’s Buddy Teevens, are the only two men to have ever won an Ivy League title as both a player and a head coach. Surace was an All-Ivy League center on the 1989 championship team, and he was the head coach of the 2013, 2016 and 2018 Ivy champions.