The Princeton Speed Bump
It's time to exorcise this house of horrors
Ever since they shuffled the Ivy schedule in 2000, Columbia's Ivy opener has always been in week three and it's always been against Princeton.
The results have almost always been devastating.
No fewer than five of the last nine meetings between the Lions and Tigers have resulted in gut-wrenching losses for the Light Blue. They have been the kind of losses that put a damper on the entire season going forward.
Here's a sampler of some of Columbia's Princeton horrors since 2000, (*WARNING: heart failure may occur as you try to visualize these horrofic scenarios):
-Blowing a 10 point lead with less than two minutes left thanks to a quick Tiger score and a recovered onsides kick. Eventually losing the game in overtime.
-Dominating a first half against Princeton, only to see the Tigers score on a Hail Mary TD at the end of the half and not being able to catch up in time in what ended in a three-point loss.
-Fighting to take a late three-point lead and sacking Princeton's QB on a last-minute play to seemingly end the threat... but then having a face mask penalty negate that sack leading to a FG and overtime... where Columbia had a PAT blocked and Princeton converted a 4th down play for a TD and the eventual winning extra point of their own.
-Scraping back from a 21-3 deficit to take a 24-21 third quarter lead, only to see Princeton take the lead back before another comeback brought the Lions within three only to have our QB throw a game-killing INT to end the threat.
-Taking a 24-21 lead in the 4th quarter, only to see Princeton convert on a long bomb to grab the lead back and then see a seemingly game-winning drive ended by a WR receiver fumble inside the Tiger 30.
Fletcher's Hail Mary haul, 2003
To be fair, Columbia's one win since 2000 was also in heart stopping fashion as the Lions battled back from a 20-0 deficit and finally won the game on a Hail Mary with no time left. That was in 2003 when Jeff Otis found Wade Fletcher in the end zone for the 33-27 win.
But Columbia has more than paid Princeton back for that lonely win since then. The heart-breaking losses of 2004, 2007 and last year have really taken a lot of the air out of the Lion seasons ever since.
Of course, Columbia's Princeton woes stretch far beyond just the last decade. Just about every great Lion team has had that one hiccup of the season against Princeton.
The 1961 Ivy Champion Columbia Lions' sole Ivy loss? To Princeton.
The 1934 Rose Bowl Champion Columbia Lions' sole loss of the season? To Princeton.
The one team Columbia could not beat in Ivy play from when the league was founded in 1956 all the way until 1971? Princeton.
The team Columbia could not beat on the road despite dozens of tries at Palmer Stadium/then Princeton Stadium from 1945 until 2003? Princeton.
The consolation prize?
Guess who we beat in 1988 to end the longest losing streak in college football history... Princeton!
But consolations like that are really tired now.
This Lions team certainly has more tools and depth than many, if not all, its predecessors over the past 10-12 years. Another Ivy opener loss to Princeton could hamstring these hard-working and gifted football players in blue for yet another year.
Enough is enough.
It's time to tame the Tiger and start the Ivy slate out right.
This is the year. This is the time.
Columbia vs. Princeton.
October 3, 2009.
Show up and cheer, or listen live online on the SideLion Pass.
Jerry Recco and I begin the pregame show at 2:30pm.