Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Columbia-Princeton: State of the Rivalry

Bob Surace must still be haunted by his last game at Wien Stadium

Princeton’s game notes and two-deep have been released.

The Columbia-Princeton rivalry has always been one of the most interesting in Ivy football.

For Lions fans, there have been many highs and lows in this series and few of the highs were better than last year’s stunning 38-0 whipping of the Tigers at Princeton Stadium.

Let’s not mince words about the effects of that game; former Tiger Head Coach Roger Hughes was basically fired because of the loss even though the termination didn’t take effect until the season was over. It was a decision a lot of people questioned when Princeton ended up winning three of its remaining six Ivy games, including a victory over its most hated rival, Yale.

New Head Coach Bob Surace HAS to know the Columbia loss got his predecessor canned, and woe to him if he takes his first contest with the Lions too lightly.

One Princeton coach who learned how important the annual Columbia matchup can be was Steve Tosches. After being at the helm when Columbia stunned the preseason championship-favored Tigers in 1988 to end THE STREAK, Tosches seemed to coach his team better and better against the Lions over the years.

Surace was on the field that fateful October 8th, 1988 day when Princeton played the tackling dummy in the Lions stunning 16-13 win. It has to be a feeling that still stings somewhere in his heart, even after all these years.

So even though Surace is new to the job and he won’t be fired even if Princeton gets walloped Saturday, I’d say the pressure is on at least a little bit for him and his staff.

From Columbia’s standpoint, the headline is this:

Columbia has NEVER… that’s right NEVER… Beaten Princeton two years in a row.

It’s a fact that really is hard to swallow since these teams started playing each other in 1871. The Lions have come close a few times in recent years, but it never worked out.

Princeton’s “revenge factor,” that some people are talking about in regards to the 38-0 loss to the Lions last year, really is silly when you realize how much the Tigers have dominated the series over the decades. In other words, if revenge is the motivation, Columbia has that over the Tigers in spades.

Columbia hasn’t beaten Princeton at home since 1997. That includes a stinging 27-24 loss to the Tigers in front of the 2008 Homecoming crowd because of a late CU fumble.

Where are They?

We’ve talked for years on this blog about the attendance by Columbia fans at Columbia games.

But what about the fans of the opposing Ivy teams?

Clearly, New York City is home to at least the plurality of every Ivy school. So why don’t more alums from opposing teams come to see their team play at Wien Stadium?

One notable exception is Cornell, which always has an impressive alumni contingent at the Lions games.

Princeton, on the other hand, is the perhaps the worst fan group when it comes to showing up at Wien. That includes the 2006 game when the Tigers were on the way to a league championship and the visitors stands were still quite empty.

I place most of the responsibility for this on the alumni communications offices at the other schools. Cornell’s big crowds are a direct result of the good job I know they do in their outreach efforts to alums. So, it’s time for the other Ivies to step it up.

Of course, if 17,000 Columbia fanatics decide to pack Wien Stadium on their own Saturday, that would be even better!

Where is Charles Bay?

One of the most devastating single players Columbia ran up against last season was Dartmouth defensive end Charles Bay. But Bay hasn’t started in either of Dartmouth’s first two games this season. Bay did come off the bench in the Bucknell game, but he hurt his shoulder in that contest. He sat out the whole game against Sacred Heart last Saturday. If he is able to come back at full strength in time for the Big Green’s big showdown at Penn this weekend, that could change the nature of that game.

Where is Lyle Marsh? Out!

Speaking of that contest, the young man who I thought was possibly the best running back in the Ivies last season is now out for the rest of this season. Penn’s Lyle Marsh eerily suffered a broken forearm just like Columbia’s Mike Stephens. The conventional wisdom is that the Quakers can brush this off because of all their depth at running back.

I’m not entirely buying that.

Marsh is a great runner, and good enough to be the primary tailback as a freshman in Penn Head Coach Al Bagnoli’s system. You can’t just brush off a loss like that. Until Penn proves it can really pass the ball effectively, the Quakers need all the running backs it can get.


At Wed Sep 29, 09:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can take the Tigers! I have a good feeling about this...

and Jake, are you saying Surace was a player in 1988? Well, he will have the same feeling by about 3:45 PM this saturday. I'm not convinced that Princeton's win means a whole lot of anything, hell, last year they beat Lehigh but we pounded them, this year, they lost to Lehigh.


At Wed Sep 29, 07:29:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Tigers are big up front and their linebackers all go about 220-230. However, Princeton's opponents have scored 68 points against them in the first two games of the season so from all indications Princeton lacks something on defense and that's probably speed. However, on offense, Princeton has the top two receivers in the League so the Princeton offense has been able thus far to compensate for the defense's deficiencies. Obviously the Lion Game Plan will be based on trying to match Princeton's offensive output while holding receiver Trey Peacock and friend in check. Seems to me that Columbia also has to think "big play" on offense as I doubt the Princeton defense has the speed to stay with our guys. On defense, we need to pressure Princeton's quarterback so that he doesn't have time to throw the ball. Gross and friends will take care of the running game. The Columbia crowd will be important as the refs have really hurt the Lions with stupid penalty calls in favor of Princeton over the years. The Columbia Fans have to make lots of noise on Saturday so that the refs don't allow Princeton to get away with anything.

At Wed Sep 29, 09:14:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are bigger than Princeton if you look at our OL vs. their DL. Our OL is also bigger than Princeton's OL. Their LBs are bigger than ours, but I doubt that they are as fast. I don't see how their LBs can stay with Kennedy. My guess is that Otis will go man on man with Peacock. If Fraser lines up for us on the DL that will help.

At Wed Sep 29, 11:43:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For some reason I see this as a nail biting defensive struggle with fewer than 30 points scored in total. I am seeing a 16-13 score....where field goals determine the outcome....

At Wed Sep 29, 11:51:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting to see the volume of posts go up the week after a win? Go Lions

At Thu Sep 30, 12:37:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Enough of this crap....let's kick Princeton's pompous asses back to Trenton!

At Thu Sep 30, 12:37:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Blue Balls said...

I see we are listed as 3 1/2 pts. favorites against the Tigers. About time we got some respect

At Thu Sep 30, 12:55:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wornham will not like the pressure that Martin etc. wioll bring to bear.

At Thu Sep 30, 01:23:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The two deep is out, and Fraser and Huggins are not on it. Que pasa?

At Thu Sep 30, 01:37:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, very close game coming down to special teams. Like what I saw from Eddy last week, and Guttas has been solid. I say Lions win on a late FG.
- Tank

At Thu Sep 30, 02:12:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the Lion's defense holds the Tigers in check and the Lions' offense scores the points needed to win this game. 34-10 Lions win.

At Thu Sep 30, 02:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The two deep doesn't always represent the underlying reality.

I don't know whether Fraser is ready to play or not but I am fairly certain that if he is, it won't be announced in the game notes.

Princeton's standout DT, Caraun Reid, was listed as a starter in Princeton's game notes for Lafayette but didn't play a single down. He listed as the starter this week also, who knows if he will actually play or not.

At Thu Sep 30, 02:40:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If any of our team read this blog please know that many of us are watching from afar on our laptops even if we cannot make it to the game. Make some history and beat Princeton for the second time in a row!

You all looked real good last week against Towson, allowing fewer points than they scored against a Big Ten team and ALOT less than their season average to that point of 23.5. I think our D is for real and our O is hitting a balanced stride.

You win games like this.

At Thu Sep 30, 04:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben Popeck, who played very well against Towson, is listed as our starting nose tackle for the Princeton Game. Popeck stopped Hart in his tracks in the fourth quarter. Go Ben!

At Thu Sep 30, 04:45:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with my fellow Lion football fan who predicts a 34-10 victory over Princeton. Having watched freshman Luke Eddy kick dat football thru de goalposts last Saturday, I would predict a flawless # of PAT conversions. Therefore, since I expect the Lions to score at least five TDs against Princeton my prediction is Columnbia 35, Princeton zilch.

At Thu Sep 30, 04:55:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I expect a great game from the Lions but am reluctant to anger the football gods by predicting the margin of victory.

At Thu Sep 30, 05:04:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's okay, there is a new football god watching over Kraft Field this year and he/she is wearing Columbia Blue.

At Thu Sep 30, 05:32:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be a wet blanket, but it is indeed poking the football Gods to predict a large margin of victory for a Columbia football. This never goes well for us...Those who did so for the Fordham game will know this.

So let's just root for any sort of win. I think they will play us tough and it will (ironically) come down to an Eddy FGA to win it. If that occurs, I like this kid to make the kick.

Chen '82

At Thu Sep 30, 06:03:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to Jake for creating the best Ivy Football Blog in the Universe.


At Thu Sep 30, 08:00:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a big one, we really need to put it on the Tigers and get a win to get this season moving in the right direction. GO LIONS!!!!

At Fri Oct 01, 07:37:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger UtSky said...

To be fair, Princeton has the second smallest alumni and student population of any Ivy after Dartmouth, so they can't pull the kind of numbers that big schools like Cornell and Harvard can with their 300% bigger populations.

Nonetheless, I would agree that Princetonians make pretty lame football fans. Basketball has traditionally drawn more excitement and the Columbia-Princeton basketball games are usually raucous affairs.

But given the huge numbers of Ivy grads in the New York area and the ridiculous convenience of Baker Field it is amazing at how small the crowds are. Columbia seems to be averaging 3,000 these days, a pathetic figure. I think this may be a legacy of the 70s and 80s mentality of "not safe to go above 96th St", never mind 196th St. Most people who live in Manhattan never set foot in Inwood over the course of their stay on the island so why should Ivy grads be any different? It's not like Fordham fans really show up in numbers, and they draw 6,000 per game.

You would think the better-than-even chance of whipping the Lions would entice opposing fans, but no. The gameday atmosphere is great, so what more could be done? I'm at a loss.

Back to the Princeton game, local alums are making a bigger effort this year to get Tiger fans to the game and the forecast is perfect, so we'll see if we can get a good amount of orange into the stands.



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