After facing three consecutive tough opponents at home, the football team heads to Cornell this weekend with as good of a chance to win as it has had all season. The Tigers (1-5 overall, 0-3 Ivy League) face the Big Red (1-5, 0-3) in the latest edition of what has been a very exciting series: Nine of the last 10 games have been decided by seven points or fewer.
Last week, Princeton threw everything it had at Harvard, eventually losing 45-28. The Tigers scored touchdowns on a tight-end pass, a running-back pass, and a wide-receiver sweep, but were ultimately done in by an inability to stop the run. Harvard trampled the Princeton defense for more than 300 yards on the ground.
This week’s opponent is a team that has had its own share of defensive problems. Like Princeton, Cornell is led by a first year head coach has won only one game. On average, the Big Red has been outgained by 230 yards (470 to 240), and the offensive line has surrendered 32 sacks. The Big Red’s lone win came at lowly Bucknell (1-6). Cornell has lost both of its home games and has been outscored 65-10 in those contests.
Princeton has won three games in a row against Cornell since suffering its only loss of the season in Ithaca during the 2006 Ivy championship campaign. Princeton leads the overall series 57-33-2. At last season’s game, Jordan Culbreath ’11 made his first return to the sidelines after being diagnosed with aplastic anemia, and his presence inspired the team to a 17-13 victory, capped by a 78-yard Trey Peacock ’11 touchdown reception.
Players to watch
Weston Palmer ’11 (Office of Athletics Communications)
Princeton cornerback Weston Palmer ’11
Palmer made a great interception early in the season against Lafayette, and after spending time as a cornerback in Princeton’s five defensive back formations, he was inserted into the starting lineup against Harvard. He responded with another interception and a number of fine defensive plays. After three years as a reserve, the senior has wasted no time in taking advantage of the opportunities he’s been given.
Cornell junior tailback Nick Booker-Tandy
Injuries have decimated Princeton’s defense, making it one of the shakier units in the Ivies, and opposing running backs have had career days against Tigers in recent games. Booker-Tandy will look to do the same. The junior has totaled 199 yards and scored one touchdown this season for the Big Red.
Princeton has no new major injuries. Sophomore defensive tackle Caraun Reid, a late scratch last week, is listed as the starter. Andrew Dixon ’11 is set to start his second straight game at quarterback, and freshman Connor Kelley likely will continue to see snaps at the position as well.
Around the Ivies
Dartmouth dealt Columbia its second straight loss, winning 24-21 in New York. Penn knocked off Yale, 27-20 on the road, to remain perfect in the Ivies. Brown also stayed unbeaten with a 27-14 win over Cornell in Providence. The Quakers and Bears face off at Franklin Field in this week’s marquee matchup.
“It just seems like each team is missing a few of their key guys. The better teams are able to overcome that. The teams that have more depth in their program seem to overcome that better. We have to do a better job.”
– Head coach Bob Surace ’90 on the high number of injuries to major players in the Ivy League