At this point, 2010 appears to be a lost season for the football team. The Tigers (1-6 overall, 0-4 Ivy League) have suffered countless injuries to key players and have dropped four games in a row. This week, Princeton faces its toughest opponent of the season in No. 18 Penn. The game will be televised nationally on Versus. The Quakers (6-1 overall, 4-0 Ivy) are the reigning Ivy champion and suffered their only loss in a hard-fought battle with Villanova, the 2009 Football Championship Subdivision national champion.
The Quakers are buoyed by a fearsome rushing attack and a stingy defense. The team uses a running-back-by-committee approach, with three backs totaling 56 or more carries through seven games. Penn averages 219 yards per game on the ground. Defensively, the Quakers give up just 279 yards per game, have intercepted six passes, and have sacked opposing quarterbacks 22 times.
If Princeton is to have success against Penn, it will need to exploit the Quakers’ one-dimensional offense. While the Quakers have completed 60 percent of their pass attempts, they’ve gained only 1,074 yards on passing plays, with four touchdowns and eight interceptions. If the Tigers succeed against the run and force Penn into passing situations, they could stay within reach of the Quakers.
Penn has won the last three games in the series, including last season’s 42-7 shellacking on the day of the Quakers’ homecoming. Princeton has dominated historically. The Tigers lead the overall series 67-37-1.
Princeton wide receiver Trey Peacock ’11
In a season in which there simply has not been much to root for, Peacock has been a shining star. Even after junior quarterback Tommy Wornham was sidelined by injury, Peacock has maintained his production. Through last week’s loss at Cornell, the senior has caught 56 passes for 814 yards and five touchdowns. His 116 yards per game average ranks him third in the nation. Penn likely will employ cornerback Jon Saelinger to keep Peacock in check. Saelinger has notched three interceptions this season.
Penn senior linebacker Zach Heller
Heller sits in the middle of Penn’s vicious defense. He has made 39 tackles this season, six of which have been for losses. He also has two sacks for 17 yards. Heller will be directing Penn’s defensive effort, particularly against the run. Penn will be looking to end drives quickly and keep its run-based offense on the field.
Princeton did not suffer any major injuries last week. The team reported that sophomore defensive tackle Caraun Reid was back in practice before the Cornell game, but Reid did not appear last week. Wornham remains out with a broken collarbone. Junior safety Matt Wakulchik also has shown no signs of returning.
Around the Ivies
Yale held off Columbia at home 31-28. Harvard knocked off Dartmouth 30-14 in Hanover. In a matchup of teams undefeated in league play, Penn soundly defeated Brown 24-7. This week, two 3-1 teams – Brown and Yale – will meet in Providence.
“We think we’re going to have our hands full. It’s never easy to go on the road in this league. I know their kids will be really fired up. We’re expecting a very very hard contest on Saturday.”
– Al Bagnoli, Penn head coach, on his admiration for the Tigers despite their struggles