The 2013 Princeton football team, which has already clinched at least a share of the 2013 Ivy League championship, will seek both an outright Ivy League title and its first perfect league season since 1964 when it travels to Hanover, N.H., this weekend for a 1:30 showdown with Dartmouth.
Princeton would clinch the outright title with either a victory over the Big Green or a Harvard loss to Yale (noon, NBC Sports Network). A Tiger win would give Princeton both a nine-game win streak and a perfect 7-0 Ivy League record — both would be firsts for the Orange and Black since 1964.
Of course, the task will be far from easy. Dartmouth has won three straight games over Princeton, and its 35-21 win in the 2012 season finale is the lone double-digit loss for the Tigers in the last 20 games. The Big Green has the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year in quarterback Dalyn Williams, one of the top tailbacks in the league in senior Dominick Pierre, and the league's top-ranked defense.
The game will also mark the finale for the Class of 2013, which entered with a new head coach and won only twice in its first 22 games. On Saturday, that group assured itself that it would leave Princeton with both a diploma from the top-ranked University in America and a championship ring.
|#19 Princeton Tigers (8-1, 6-0) at Dartmouth Big Green (5-4, 4-2)
A Princeton Win Would …
• clinch an outright Ivy League title for the first time since the 1995 season
• give the Tigers their first nine-game win streak since the 1964 season
• give Princeton its first 9-1 season since the 2006 Ivy championship season
• be Princeton’s first 7-0 Ivy League season since 1964 and its second ever
• end a three-game losing streak to Dartmouth
WEEK 10 GAME NOTES
Lights, Camera, Action
Princeton will conclude its season Saturday at 1:30 pm at Dartmouth on the Ivy League Digital Network. The game can also be heard on both the radio and online via WPRB 103.3 FM.
With its 6-0 start in Ivy League play, Princeton has clinched at least a share of the 2013 Ivy League championship, its 10th in program history and its first since 2006. Either a victory Saturday at Dartmouth or a Yale win over Harvard (noon) would clinch an outright championship for the Tigers. Of Princeton’s nine Ivy League titles prior to this season, only three (1957, 1964, 1995) have been outright championships.
Though each of its eight programs began play well before, the Ivy League officially began play in 1956. In the first 57 seasons of league play, Princeton went 7-0 in the Ivy League only one time (1964). A victory over Dartmouth Sunday would be No. 2 in program history.
When Phillip Bhaya returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown, it did more than open a 29-point lead against Yale. That score clinched the Ivy League single-season scoring record with more than five quarters of football still to go. The 2012 Harvard team held the record with 394 points, but Princeton goes into Saturday’s season finale with 413 points already this season.
Princeton moved into the national Top 20 for the first time since the end of the 2006 season this week. The Tigers are No. 19 in the FCS Coaches Poll, and they are No. 22 in The Sports Network media poll.
Princeton has scored at least 50 points five times in the last eight games. Prior to that,
Princeton had scored 50 points five times in the previous 469 games.
Princeton head coach Bob Surace, an All-Ivy center and member of the 1989 Ivy League championship team, was named one of 20 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Award, given by The Sports Network for the FCS National Coach of the Year.
Dressed To The Nines
Princeton has won eight straight games heading into the weekend, matching its longest win streak since the 1995 Ivy title season. A win Saturday would give Princeton its first nine-game win streak since 1964, the only other time the Tigers went undefeated in Ivy League play.
Princeton is the sixth team in Ivy League history to come from outside the Top 4 in the
preseason media poll and win a championship; the Tigers were picked to finish fifth during the annual offseason poll. The last two teams to do this were Yale (fifth) and Princeton (sixth), both of whom shared the 2006 Ivy crown with matching 6-1 records.
A win Saturday would mean that Princeton would become the first time in Ivy League history to go on the road and beat each team in the preseason Top 4; the Tigers have already rallied to earn road wins at No. 1 Penn, No. 2 Harvard and No. 3 Dartmouth.
With 4,707 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. Princeton also ranks in the FCS national Top 5 in both scoring offense (second, 45.9) and total offense (fifth, 523.0).
Two seasons ago, Princeton ranked last in the Ivy League in scoring offense, averaging 17.4 points per game. Since the 2009 season, Princeton’s scoring averages have improved each season: 12.9 (2009), 16.5 (2010), 17.4 (2011), 26.6 (2012), 45.9 (present).
Head Of The Class
The Princeton Class of 2013 came to Princeton at the same time as head coach Bob Surace and won a total of seven games in its first three seasons, a stretch that included back-to-back 1-9 seasons in both 2010 and 2011.
This year, that group has already won eight games and clinched a share of the Ivy League title.
Green With Envy
While Princeton will enter next season with a winning streak against at least six Ivy League teams, the Tigers enter Saturday on a three-game losing streak to Dartmouth. Over the last 20 games, Princeton has lost only one game by more than seven points (the 35-21 loss to Dartmouth last season), and two by seven points, including a 24-17 loss at Dartmouth in 2011. Princeton’s last win against Dartmouth was a 23-11 road victory at the conclusion of the 2009 season.
Princeton and Dartmouth rank first and second in the Ivy League in both total offense and total defense. Princeton has the edge on Dartmouth in the offensive category (523.0 to 435.3), while Dartmouth leads the defensive category (345.1 to 347.3). To move past Dartmouth in the total defense rankings, Princeton will need to gain 21 more yards than the Big Green this weekend.
Saturday also matches the league’s top-ranked scoring offense (Princeton, 45.9 points per game) against the top-ranked scoring defense (19.0), as well as the top two rushing offenses in the Ivy League (Princeton is first, 226.4, followed by Dartmouth, 217.1).
Junior quarterback Quinn Epperly, who set an NCAA record with 29 straight completions in Princeton’s victory at Cornell, was named to The Walter Payton Award Watch List last week; the Payton Award honors the outstanding player in the FCS.
Quinn Epperly also earned his sixth Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week Award this season after throwing three touchdowns and rushing for a fourth against Yale. Epperly has 23 touchdown passes and 17 rushing touchdowns this season; no other player in the FCS has at least 14 of both.
Epperly has won the honor five straight weeks, which sets a record for most consecutive weeks with any honor. That record had been held by classmate Chuck Dibilio, who was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week four straight times during the 2011 season. With six Player of the Week honors in his career, Epperly ties all-time rushing leader Keith Elias ‘94 for the most in program history.
Not Bad, For Starters
Quinn Epperly made his first collegiate start two years ago, rushing for two touchdowns in a 24-17 loss at Dartmouth. He earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors after that game.
On The Mark
Princeton junior quarterback Quinn Epperly set an NCAA Division I record Nov. 2 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.
Epperly’s completion percentage of 71.8% is on pace to break both the Ivy League record of 70.5% (Gavin Hoffman, Penn, 2000) and the Princeton record of 68.2%, held by former Bushnell Cup winner and current Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett (1988). Epperly is averaging 28 pass attempts per game; if he threw 28 at Dartmouth, he would only need to complete 10 to match Garrett’s single-season record. He would need to complete 17 of them to break Hoffman’s league record.
Quinn Epperly has jumped into the Top 10 in several FCS statistical categories:
• Ranks first nationally in points responsible for per game (27.6)
• Ranks second nationally in completion percentage (71.8%)
• Ranks third nationally in scoring per game (11.3) — that total is for his 17 rushing TDs only
• Ranks sixth nationally in passing efficiency (163.3)
• Is the only player in FCS with 13 or more rushing and 13 or more passing touchdowns this season; he has at least 17 in both categories
Quinn Epperly enters the weekend with a chance to match or break the Princeton single-season record for both passing and rushing touchdowns. He currently has 23 passing scores, two behind Doug Butler’s record mark of 25, set during the 1983 season. He also has 17 rushing touchdowns, which is only two behind Keith Elias’ record of 19, set during the 1993 season.
He is also the only player in Ivy League history to account for 40 touchdowns in one season.
Roman Wilson is the second player in Princeton history to catch 10 TD passes in a season. He is one TD reception behind Derek Graham (1983) for the Princeton single-season record of 11. Wilson is also third on the career TD reception list with 15. He is one behind Kevin Guthrie for second, and four behind Graham for first. Wilson is also ninth on the career receiving yards list with 1556; to move up, he needs: 45 for eighth, 47 for seventh, 62 for sixth, 153 for fifth, 159 for fourth. Oh, and 642 for third.
The Century Club
Prior to the season, Princeton only had 8 players with at least 100 career catches. At Penn, both Matt Costello and Roman Wilson joined that list.
Wilson has caught 21 passes in the last two weeks and enters the final game of his career seventh on the Princeton career list with 119 catches. He would need five to match Phil Wendler for sixth on the list, and he is 18 behind Judd Garrett for fifth.
Costello, who will be a senior in 2014, has 104 career catches, and would move past Brendan Circle and into eighth place by himself with two catches.
Line Them Up
Senior center Joe Goss will be making his 38th career start this weekend, while both left tackle Spenser Huston and right guard Max Coale will both be making their 23rd straight starts.
The offensive line has helped Princeton rank sixth nationally in sacks allowed per game (.61 per game), as well as Top 20 totals in the four major offensive team categories: scoring (2nd), total (5th), passing (14th) and rushing (17th).
After recording 13 sacks in the first five games of the season, Princeton has recorded 19 in the last four 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 three weeks ago, and added three sacks in last week’s 59-23 win over Yale.
Senior Elijah Mitchell, whose interception return for a touchdown gave Princeton its first lead at Penn two weeks ago, leads the team with 4.5 sacks, while Caraun Reid, Jason Ray and Mike Zeuli all have 3.5 this season. Princeton has nine players with at least two sacks this season.
Princeton leads the Ivy League with 32 sacks this season, and its 3.56 sacks per game ranks third nationally in the FCS.
Princeton has come back to win five of its last six games. Those deficits included a 17-0 score at Brown, a 16-0 score at Penn and a seven-point lead for Harvard in overtime. Those three teams, all of which hosted Princeton this season, were each ranked in the Top 3 in the Ivy League preseason poll.
Reid It And Weep
Senior Caraun Reid, a two-time first-team All-Ivy League selection and a 2012 All-America, is on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List for FCS Defensive Player of the Year honors. This season,
despite seeing multiple blockers on almost every play, Reid has seven tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries, 3.5 sacks, one interception and one blocked kick.
Return To Sender
After not scoring a defensive touchdown in the first seven games of the season, Princeton has scored one in back-to-back weeks. Two weeks ago, Elijah Mitchell intercepted Billy Ragone and returned it 59 yards for a score; last weekend, Phillip Bhaya intercepted Logan Scott and returned it 34 yards for a score.
Princeton also had its first kick return for a touchdown since Week 3 of the 2012 season when Jakobi Johnson scooped up an onsides kick and returned it untouched for a 46-yard score.
On The Mike
Junior linebacker Mike Zeuli, who moved from safety to linebacker during the offseason, leads Princeton and ranks eight in the Ivy League with 7.3 tackles per game. He ended Penn’s final drive with his first interception of the season, and he also set up a scoring drive with a fumble recovery in Penn territory, and he recorded a sack and three quarterback hurries in the win over Yale.
The Princeton defense forced a season-best six turnovers at Penn (three interceptions, three fumbles), and it ranks second in the Ivy League in overall turnover margin at +10. Over the last four games, Princeton has been +7.
Dartmouth will test that defense, as it has the fewest giveaways (9) in the league this season.
Princeton leads the Ivy League and ranks 19th nationally in third-down conversion defense (33.3%). Over the last two weeks, Princeton has held its opponents to a 4-for-14 success rate on third downs in the second half; for the season, the defense has limited its opponents to only a 22.6% success rate on third downs in the fourth quarter.
Senior safety and co-captain Phillip Bhaya ranks second on the team and 12th in the Ivy League with 6.9 tackles per game. He leads Princeton with three interceptions this season, including one in both the Harvard and Yale wins. That sweep is the 26th in program history and, by tradition, will bring a bonfire to Cannon Green Sunday night at 7 pm.
Bhaya was recently named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team to honor his success both on and off the field.
Shut The Dor-ian
Freshman Dorian Williams, a former Ivy League Rookie of the Week, made a career-best 12 tackles in Princeton’s win over Yale last weekend. The nickel corner leads all Princeton freshmen and ranks third among Ivy League freshmen with 40 tackles this season.
Just A Second
Princeton has three players ranked in the Top 2 in Ivy League defensive categories. Senior Jason Ray ranks second with 1.0 tackles for loss per game this season, while sophomore John Hill ranks second with 1.11 passes defensed per game. Phillip Bhaya’s three interceptions are tied for second most in the league
Just For Kicks
Princeton placekicker Nolan Bieck has made seven of his last eight field goals, including a
career-long 40-yarder in the win over Lafayette. Four 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. Freshman punter Tyler Roth is also coming off one of his best performances of the season; he averaged 41.2 yards per punt in the victory over Yale.
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 Crystal Ball
Princeton opens its 2014 season Sept. 20 at the University of San Diego, and it will open its home schedule Sept. 27 against Davidson. The Tigers are 2-0 all-time against San Diego (2004, 2005) and 1-0 against Davidson (1987).
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.