At this point, things can’t get much worse. A week after suffering its worst loss in the history of the Princeton-Penn series, the football team will travel to New Haven to face a Yale team that has a lot to play for. The Bulldogs (6-2, 4-1 Ivy League) remain in contention for the Ivy title and will be gunning for a win as two of the league’s other top teams, Penn and Harvard, face off in Philadelphia.
Princeton’s injury woes have become even worse. The Tigers lost senior running back, co-captain, and inspirational leader Jordan Culbreath to a season-ending knee injury against Penn. The injury leaves the team with only one of its three captains, senior fullback Matt Zimmerman, still on the field.
Against the Bulldogs, Princeton will hope that senior wide receiver Trey Peacock can have a big game. Peacock has been a superstar for the Tigers, catching 61 passes for 859 yards and five touchdowns. He currently ranks sixth in program history for receiving yards and could climb as high as fourth by season’s end. Fellow senior wideout Andrew Kerr also has had quite a season, with 48 receptions for 439 yards and five touchdowns. The two seniors could be key to Princeton’s success on Saturday.
The Princeton-Yale rivalry is the second most-played rivalry in the history of college football, behind only Lehigh-Lafayette. Now in its 132nd edition, it has been played six more times than “The Game,” Harvard and Yale’s storied rivalry. Currently, the Bulldogs lead 72-50-10 and have won six of the last eight.
Last season, the Tigers scored an emotional 24-17 victory over Yale. Then-sophomore quarterback Tommy Wornham played the best game of his career, completing 16 of 23 passes for one touchdown and rushing for another score on a key fourth and goal play. Safety Dan Kopolovich recorded the game-winning tackle for Princeton on a fourth-down play in the final minute of the game.
Players to watch
Jon Olofsson ’11 (Office of Athletic Communications)
Princeton linebacker Jon Olofsson ’11
Olofsson has done an admirable job stepping in for the injured Steve Cody ’11 this season. His 9.5 tackles per game are third-best in the Ivy League. This week, he’ll be keying in on Yale running back Andrew Thomas, who averages 80.3 yards per game and has scored six touchdowns. Princeton gave up 396 rushing yards to Penn last week, with much of it coming up the middle. It will be up to Olofsson to steady the defense and stop the run.
Yale junior quarterback Patrick Witt
The onetime Nebraska quarterback has led Yale effectively this season, though he has had occasional struggles. Witt averages 254.4 yards passing and has tossed 11 touchdowns, but has also been intercepted 12 times. Princeton’s defense has been trampled on the ground, and the Bulldogs certainly will try to run the ball. A mistake-free passing day from Witt could put the game completely out of reach.
Culbreath will be replaced by freshman Brian Mills, who has shown blazing speed in limited action. Junior safety Matt Wakulchik is out again after returning to the lineup for the past two weeks. Freshman center Joe Goss also sustained an injury against Penn. If he is unavailable, senior center Michael Crowder will make his first career start.
Around the Ivies
Harvard stymied Columbia 23-7 at home. Dartmouth traveled south to Ithaca and trounced Cornell 28-10. In the biggest Ivy game of the week, Yale held off Brown 27-24 in Providence on the strength of two kickoffs returned for touchdowns. With two weeks remaining, Penn (5-0), Harvard (4-1), and Yale (4-1) appear to be the only realistic Ivy title contenders.
“This game is special for everyone. As a senior, realizing this is our last opportunity to play these guys, this game’s really special for me as well.”
– Co-captain Matt Zimmerman ’11 on the significance of the Princeton-Yale game