First-Place Tigers Head To Reigning Champ Penn In Crucial Ivy Matchup
The last time Princeton defeated Penn, it went on to win its ninth Ivy League championship.
That was 2006.
If Princeton can end a six-game losing streak to the reigning Ivy League champion Penn Quakers, the Tigers would move to the brink of their 10th Ivy League title.
Easier said than done, though, as Princeton has learned time and again. Penn has the longest winning streak over Princeton of any Ivy League team, and the Quaker defense has dominated this series over the last 15 years in games played at Franklin Field.
And while Princeton put up three touchdowns last season, it was the Penn defense that came up with three crucial turnovers, including one interception it returned for a touchdown, in a 28-21 victory that knocked the Tigers from first place.
But this is a new season, and a new Princeton offense. Led by four-time Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week Quinn Epperly, coming off his NCAA record 29-straight-completion performance against Cornell, the Tigers rank among the Top 5 nationally in several offensive categories.
The Princeton defense may be overshadowed some by the offense, but the Tigers also lead the Ivy League in total defense, and that group has raised its game when the stakes mattered most. During the six-game win streak, Princeton has allowed only two touchdowns over the last six fourth quarters.
Both units will be put to the test this weekend against the preseason Ivy League favorite, which is expected to have starting quarterback Billy Ragone back on the field when it takes on Princeton at noon on the Ivy League Digital Network.
It's Princeton-Penn for first place in November.
What more can you ask for?
|Princeton Tigers (6-1, 4-0 Ivy) at Penn Quakers (4-3, 3-1 Ivy)
|Game Time/Location||12 pm • Franklin Field • Tickets|
|Game Coverage||Ivy Digital Network l Radio l Live Stats l @PUTigers|
|All-Time Series||Princeton leads 63-40-1|
|Last Year||Penn 28, PRINCETON 21|
|Last At Site||PENN 37, Princeton 9 (2011)|
|Last Five Years||Penn leads 5-0|
|Last Princeton Win||PRINCETON 31, Penn 30 (2 ot)|
|Current Streak||Penn 6|
|Princeton||Game Notes l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
|Penn||Game Notes l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
A Princeton Win Would …• give Princeton its first seven-game win streak since the 2005-06 seasons
• give Princeton its first five-game road win streak since the 2005-06 seasons
• be Princeton’s first win over Penn since 2006 (its longest active losing streak in Ivies)
• move Princeton within one win of at least a share of the Ivy League championship
• be Princeton’s 12th win in its last 16 games
WEEK 7 GAME NOTES
The Amazing Race
Princeton is the lone undefeated team in the Ivy League, and it stands one game above both reigning Ivy champion Penn and 2011 champion Harvard in the league standings. This is the latest Princeton has had sole possession of first place in the Ivy standings since the 1995 season, which is also the last time Princeton won an outright Ivy League championship.
Two wins over the last three weeks would assure Princeton of at least a share of the Ivy League title, while three wins would clinch the outright title. Should Princeton defeat Penn Saturday and Columbia upset Harvard, the Tigers would earn a share of the title this weekend.
Princeton is looking for its seventh straight win Saturday, something it hasn’t done in a single season since the 1995 championship season. The Tigers did win seven straight games between the season finale of 2005 and the first six games of the 2006 — the latter was Princeton’s last shared Ivy League championship season.
Princeton has won four straight road games overall, including each of its first three this season. The last time Princeton opened a season with four straight road wins was 1995, and the last time Princeton won five straight road games over two seasons was 2005-06, when the Tigers won six in a row.
While Princeton is undefeated on the road this season, Penn is undefeated at Franklin Field during that same span.
Princeton was picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League preseason poll. It has road wins over the team picked to finish third (Brown) and second (Harvard). Penn was picked to finish first.
The Penn Has Been Mightier
Princeton has lost six straight games to Penn, marking its longest active losing streak to an Ivy League rival. Princeton has also lost six of its last seven games at Franklin Field, with the lone exception being a 30-13 victory during the 2005 season.
Princeton leads the Ivy League and ranks third nationally in scoring offense with 45.1 points per game. The Tigers have scored at least 50 points in four of their last six games, including three times against Ivy League opponents. Prior to this season, Princeton had scored at least 50 points only four times since the 1965 season, a span of 47 seasons.
The program single-season scoring record was set in 1950, when Dick Kazmaier led the
Tigers to a national championship and helped Princeton average 38.8 points per game. For the Tigers to break that record, they need to average 24.3 points per game during the next four weeks.
Princeton is currently averaging 23.4 points in the first half of games this season.
On The Other Hand
While Princeton has scored 43 touchdowns this season, an average of 6.1 per game, it has only scored one touchdown in the last three games combined at Franklin Field. That lone touchdown came during a 42-7 win by Penn during its 2009 Ivy championship season. In its last seven visits to Franklin Field, Princeton has only reached 14 points once (30-13, 2005).
During last season’s 28-21 loss to Penn, Princeton threw three interceptions, including one in the end zone and one that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and returned for a touchdown.
As a team, Princeton has only thrown three interceptions this season, and only one since the season-opening 29-28 loss to nationally ranked Lehigh. The Tigers rank second in the nation in interceptions thrown.
With 3,810 yards of total offense through seven games, Princeton has already surpassed the previous Ivy League high-water mark of 3,566 yards by Harvard in 2000. The Tigers’ scoring clip of 45.1 points per game is on pace to reset the League’s all-time record for a second-straight season. Harvard currently holds the record at 39.4 points per game in 2012.
On The Mark
Princeton junior quarterback Quinn Epperly set an NCAA Division I record when he completed 29 straight passes in the 53-20 victory over Cornell last weekend. Epperly completed his first 29 passes of the game, including two touchdown passes to Roman Wilson and one to Seth DeValve. His 29th completion, an eight-yard pass to DeValve, moved Epperly past Richie Williams of Appalachian State, who had 28 straight completions on Oct. 9, 2004.
Quinn Epperly was named the Ivy League Co-Offensive Player of the Week following the Cornell game. He has won this honor four times this season — each after an Ivy League win — including each of the last three weeks. He was also named The Sports Network National Offensive Player of the Week after throwing six touchdown passes, including the third-overtime game winner, in the 51-48 victory at Harvard two weeks ago.
Epperly is just the sixth player in Ivy League history to win a football weekly award three weeks in a row. It has happened seven times with Brown’s Nick Hartigan as the only player to do it twice. Hartigan was the last offensive player to achieve the feat, which happened twice in 2005 (Oct. 3, 10 & 17 and Oct. 31, Nov. 7 & Nov. 14). The only other offensive player to do it was Cornell’s Chad Levitt in 1996 (Oct. 13, 20 & 27).
Quinn Epperly has jumped into the Top 3 in several FCS statistical categories:
• Ranks first nationally in points responsible for per game (28.0)
• Ranks second nationally in completion percentage (74.9%)
• Ranks second nationally in passing efficiency (179.6)
• Ranks third nationally in scoring per game (12.0) -- that total is for his 14 rushing TDs only
• Is the only player in FCS with 12 or more rushing and 12 or more passing touchdowns this season
Just Quinn, Baby
Quinn Epperly leads the Ivy League in rushing touchdowns (14), passing touchdowns (18), pass efficiency (179.6) and completion percentage (74.9%). His 18 passing touchdowns are second-most in Princeton history; he trails Doug Butler, who threw for 25 touchdowns during the 1983 season. His 14 rushing touchdowns are fourth most in program history; the record is held by Keith Elias, who rushed for 19 touchdowns during the 1991 season. Epperly’s completion percentage is well on pace to break the record of 68.2%, set by Jason Garrett during the 1988 season.
Princeton has had eight players catch at least 100 passes in their career, but it could put two more players on that list early Saturday. Junior Matt Costello has 99 receptions in his career, while senior Roman Wilson has 98. Over the last two weeks, the duo combined for 31 catches for 289 yards and four touchdowns.
Wilson is currently ranked second in the Ivy League in both receptions per game (8.3) and receiving yards per game (101.4). In both cases, he trails only Cornell senior Grant Gellatly.
Wilson has caught three touchdown passes over the last two games, including two last weekend, and now stands third on Princeton’s career touchdown reception list with 14. He is two behind Kevin Guthrie for second place.
Princeton leads the Ivy League in scoring offense (45.1), rushing offense (240.9) and total offense (544.3); the Tigers trail only Cornell in passing offense (303.4).
Princeton has not finished a season leading the Ivy League in both overall scoring and scoring in league games since 1965. The Tigers last led the Ivy League in overall scoring in 1988, and it last led in scoring in Ivy games in 1989.
Mr. Smith Goes To The End Zone
Senior tight end Des Smith had scored one career touchdown heading into the Lafayette game four weeks ago. Since then, he caught a touchdown pass in three straight wins (Lafayette, Brown and Harvard), and he caught two-point conversion passes in both the Lafayette and Harvard victories.
Line Them Up
Much of the success of the offense this season has come from the experienced group up front, which includes three upperclassmen who have started at least 20 games in their careers. Senior center Joe Goss will be making his 35th career start this weekend, while both left tackle Spenser Huston and right guard Max Coale will both be making their 21th straight starts.
The offensive line has helped Princeton rank 10th nationally in sacks allowed per game (.71 per game).
Senior wideout Roman Wilson has scored at least one touchdown in 10 of Princeton’s last 12 games, including the first four games this season. He was held out of the end zone in regulation at Harvard, but he scored both of Princeton’s overtime touchdowns. Following his nine-yard reverse to force a second overtime, he caught the game-winning six-yard touchdown in the third session, and he added two more touchdown catches last weekend. Wilson ranks first in the Ivy League and 10th nationally with nine touchdown catches this season. The Princeton single-season record is 11, set by Derek Graham.
Princeton leads the Ivy League in both third-down conversion percentage (43.3%) and third-down
conversion defense (32.1%). The defensive percentage is the 14th-best total in the FCS.
After recording 13 sacks in the first five games of the season, Princeton has recorded 14 in the last two wins. After recording seven sacks in the triple-overtime win at Harvard, the Tigers sacked all-time Ivy League passing leader Jeff Mathews seven times last weekend.
Senior Jason Ray is Princeton’s leader with 3.5 sacks this season, but Princeton has eight players with at least two sacks this season.
Princeton allowed 13 points to Lehigh in the fourth quarter of a season-opening 29-28 loss. Since then, the Tiger defense has allowed only 14 fourth-quarter points in the last six games; one touchdown came when Princeton turned it over inside its own 20 against Harvard, and the other came with Princeton leading 43-13 last weekend.
Princeton has come back to win three of its last four games. It trailed Brown 17-0 in the second quarter and was down 20-11 to Lafayette. The defense shut out Brown for the final 44 minutes of the game, and it allowed Lafayette only one touchdown in the final three quarters of a 42-26 win.
Against Harvard, Princeton trailed twice in overtime, but the defense held the Crimson to field goals in both the second and third overtime sessions.
Reid It And Weep
Senior Caraun Reid, a two-time first-team All-Ivy League selection and a 2012 All-America, has only missed one game over the last two years. He suffered an injury at Cornell last season and was unable to play against Penn this season.
Despite seeing multiple blockers almost every play this season, Reid has six tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries and 2.5 sacks this season. He added his first career interception last weekend, and it set up the first touchdown in a 53-20 win.
Corner The Market
Both of Princeton’s starting cornerbacks, Anthony Gaffney and John Hill, have recorded interceptions over the last four weeks. Hill ranks second in the league with 1.1 passes defensed per game, while Gaffney was a first-team All-Ivy League cornerback his freshman season.
On The Mike
Junior linebacker Mike Zeuli, who moved from safety to linebacker during the offseason, leads Princeton and ranks fourth in the Ivy League with 8.6 tackles per game. He replaced Andrew Starks in the starting lineup; Starks made 15 tackles against Penn last season.
Leicht It Up
Junior middle linebacker Garrit Leicht, who missed the first half of last season because of injury, is in his first season as the starting middle linebacker. He has averaged seven tackles per game during the last four week, and he ranks 12th in the Ivy League with 6.9 tackles per game.
Shut The Dor-ian
Freshman cornerback Dorian Williams was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after
recording a team-high eight tackles and forcing a fumble in Princeton’s 39-17 victory over Brown. Williams leads all Princeton freshmen and ranks sixth on the team with 26 tackles, and he is second overall on the team in pass breakups (four).
Senior safety and co-captain Phillip Bhaya, who recorded an interception last season against Penn, shares the team lead at Princeton with two interceptions this season, including one in the win at Harvard two weeks ago. He ranks third on the team with 46 tackles, including 10 at Harvard.
Princeton is 4-0 this season in games when it has at least a +1 advantage in turnovers, and it is 8-4 during the tenure of Bob Surace. Over the same stretch, the Tigers are 2-16 in games when it is -1 or worse in the turnover margin, including all three Penn games.
Last weekend was the first game this season when the turnover margin was even.
Just For Kicks
Princeton placekicker Nolan Bieck has made four of five field goals in the last five games, including a career-long 40-yarder in the win over Lafayette three weeks ago. Two weeks ago, he made a pair of pressure-packed kicks in overtime; following his extra point that forced a second session, he made a 31-yard field goal to open the second overtime.
The Crystal Ball
Princeton will honor its senior class and play its home finale next Saturday at 1 pm when it hosts the Yale Bulldogs during Alumni Weekend. The game will be televised live on ESPN3 and can be heard on WPRB 103.3 FM.
This will be the 136th game in the Princeton-Yale series, which is the second most games played in any active collegiate rivalry (trailing only Lehigh-Lafayette). Princeton won 29-7 at the Yale Bowl last season in a game that featured a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Trocon Davis just before halftime.
Yale leads the all-time series 74-51-10 and is 5-2 all-time at Princeton Stadium.
Honoring Princeton’s Greatest
This season, Princeton players are wearing a sticker with the number 42 on their helmets, and the number has been painted on Powers Field at Princeton Stadium. That number, the only one retired by the Princeton football team, belonged to 1951 Heisman Trophy winner Dick Kazmaier, who is recognized as the greatest player in program history.
Kazmaier, who led Princeton to the 1950 national championship and back-to-back undefeated seasons in 1950 and 1951, passed away on Aug. 1, 2013.
“My admiration for Dick Kazmaier goes well beyond the respect earned by his being the greatest football player in the unmatched history of our Princeton program,” head coach Bob Surace ’90 said. “Whenever I talk to our team about Dick Kazmaier, it is not about the Heisman, the undefeated seasons, statues or awards. It is about the traits that Dick shared with me in every communication we had, the qualities that make up the ideal Princeton man — character, dignity, strength, intelligence, humility, unselfishness, commitment and passion to be exceptional in every area of life.
“I will cherish the friendship, support and mentorship that I am fortunate to have with Dick Kazmaier and will pass these values along to our future Tigers,” Surace added.
The Ivy League® Digital Network is the Ivy League’s first-ever digital sports network at IvyLeagueDigitalNetwork.com.
Featuring live and on-demand video and audio content from home and away contests across a variety of sports, the nine-channel network features a channel for each of the eight schools and a League-wide channel showcasing all available digital content across the conference.
Powered by NeuLion, The Ivy League® Digital Network includes an easy-to-navigate interface, a League-wide network schedule and new interactive features, such as simultaneous four-game viewing, full DVR controls and social media integration. These new features enhance the viewing experience for the expanded range of events and other content offerings, all of which are available on computer, mobile and tablet devices, all without the use of an app.
Packages for the League-wide channel are $119.95 for 12 months, $49.95 for four months and $15.95 for one month and include multi-camera HD coverage of all available home and select away games in football and men’s and women’s basketball and selected home and away games in men’s and women’s ice hockey. Every available Ivy League contest in those sports will be shown on the network. Packages for the school-specific channels, which feature live and on-demand video and audio content from available home and away contests across a variety of sports, are $89.95 for 12 months, $39.95 for four months, $10.95 for one month and $9.95 for a single day.
On The Inside
“Inside Ivy League Football,” a weekly online radio show dedicated to Ivy League football, returns for its third year for the 2013 season but now has a new home on The Ivy League® Digital Network.
Airing Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and hosted by Princeton radio commentator Dan Loney and Brian Seltzer, “Inside Ivy League Football” takes an in-depth look at all the on-field gridiron action and all the news and notes surrounding football in the Ancient Eight.
Each episode is packed with highlights, statistics and expert analysis in its ‘Around the Ancient Eight’ segment. With its interview segments ‘Program Profile’ and ‘Alumni Spotlight,’ the show visits with players, coaches and administrators who impact Ivy League football, both past and present in exclusive one-on-one conversations.
Fans and alumni can engage with the show via Facebook (facebook.com/InsideIvyLeagueFootball) and Twitter (@insideivyfb, #IvyFootball) and contribute content for its ‘Social Media Mash’ segment with chances to win prize packs courtesy of The Ivy League.
Check IvyLeagueSports.com each week for this season’s episode schedule and guest lineups.