Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10 VIP's (Very Important Princeton Games)

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The Jersey Score! Fletcher's Hail Mary grab sealed a dramatic win in 2003

The Columbia-Princeton rivalry has been filled with extremely memorable and important games.

Even in seasons where neither team seemed like it would make a run for the title, somehow the Lion-Tiger matchups made headlines.

Long-time Columbia fans are well aware of the history between the cross-Hudson River rivals, but here’s a quick primer for the uninitiated.

1) 1933: Princeton 20 Columbia 0

Columbia’s otherwise perfect season was ruined early in the year with a shutout loss at Palmer Stadium. The Lions shook off the embarrassing loss, ran the table in the regular season, and earned a Rose Bowl invite when the Tigers turned it down! The rest is history as Columbia shocked Stanford 7-0 in the soaked Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day in Pasadena. But the fact that Princeton left the only stain on the Lions’ greatest season remains a sore point.

2) 1961: Princeton 30 Columbia 20

The 1933 scenario played itself out again in eerie fashion as Columbia’s great 1961 Ivy championship season was somewhat marred by a loss at home to Princeton. The Lions blew a late lead with a bad turnover to contribute to the loss. As a result of the Princeton game, Columbia had to officially share the Ivy title with Harvard, even though the Lions whipped the Crimson in Cambridge.

3) 1971: Columbia 22 Princeton 20

Since the formal creation of the Ivy League in 1956, Columbia had NEVER beaten Princeton in official league play… until this game. The ’71 “Kardiac Kids” pulled out a thriller at Baker Field in a rainstorm. Sophomore defensive back Ted Gregory and junior QB Don Jackson starred in the game that finally got the Lions over the hump. The team finished the season 6-3 and second in the Ivies.

4) 1982: Columbia 35 Princeton 14

In the final Homecoming game at the old Baker Field stadium, legendary CU QB John Witkowski lit up the Tigers with 316 passing yards en route to his Bushnell Cup winning season. This would be the only game Columbia would win all season.

5) 1988: Columbia 16 Princeton 13

Princeton came into 1988 favored to win the Ivy title with stars like Jason and Judd Garrett.

Columbia came into 1988 riding the nation’s longest-ever Division I football losing streak.

No problem.

On a rainy Homecoming game at Wien Stadium, running backs Greg Abbruzzese and Solomon Johnson shredded the Tiger defense and the Lions held on for a miraculous 16-13 win that ended the 44-game losing streak and set off a massive celebration from Inwood to Morningside Heights.

6) 1996: Princeton 14 Columbia 11

Columbia came into the game 6-0 and looking for revenge on a Princeton team that had dashed its title hopes the year before in a 44-14 drubbing at Palmer Stadium. But the Lions disappointed the packed Wien Stadium crowd with a lackluster offensive effort and a costly taunting penalty by future NFL All Pro Marcellus Wiley. The game ended when a last second FG attempt by Columbia went just wide.

7) 2000: Princeton 27 Columbia 24 (OT)

This was possibly the most painful Columbia loss of the decade. Leading 24-14 with just over two minutes to go, the Lions saw the Tigers score and convert an onsides kick to set up the tying points in regulation.

8) 2003: Columbia 33 Princeton 27

A Hail Mary pass at the end of regulation from QB Jeff Otis to TE Wade Fletcher stunned the Princeton Stadium crowd. Columbia came back from a 20-0 deficit to win the game.

9) 2004: Princeton 27 Columbia 26 (OT)

The Tigers got their revenge for the 2003 game just one year later in front of a hopeful Homecoming crowd in New York. First, Princeton tied the game on a desperation FG drive at the end of the game. Then, they blocked the PAT on Columbia’s TD in overtime setting up their own winning TD and PAT moments later.

10) 2009: Columbia 38 Princeton 0

The Lions stunned the Princeton Stadium crowd with a thorough whipping filled with highlight reel performances by WR Austin Knowlin and several others. It’s was clear the home fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

Of course, last year’s 42-14 Columbia win over Princeton was more of the same and it was also the very first time the Lions had defeated the Tigers two years in a row.

Could they make it three?

Log on tomorrow for my scouting report and see.

But either way, this rivalry has taken on a new tone. There seems to be a more level playing field where either team could win in a close game or a rout.

And with two straight routs in the books, it feels like we’re due for a nail biter at Old Nassau.


At Wed Sep 28, 12:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome recap of some of the most memorable games in this historic rivalry. I'm not sure how they are ranked with your 1-10 numbering system, but it's hard to see how the 1998 game stands at only #5 under any criteria.

At Wed Sep 28, 12:37:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I see that they are in chronological order. Allow me to withdraw my previous comment with a polite, "Never mind."

At Wed Sep 28, 12:38:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger Jake said...

I think you mean the 1988 game.

I was just putting them in chronological order on the list, oldest to newest.

At Wed Sep 28, 01:09:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the Pr games I saw at Baker Field included the Tigers putting a receiver near their side line and the players on the bench gathering off the field near him. That made spotting him by the Lion D almost impossible. He caught a pass afterward, although I don't know if it was critical.

At Wed Sep 28, 01:10:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch the video of the 1988 game. It still gives me goosebumps.

At Wed Sep 28, 01:39:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how do yo see the video of the 1988 game

At Wed Sep 28, 03:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Athletic Department produced a video which was widely distributed after the season. Very professionally done and truly stirring. It features a great DT who graduated the year before we broke the streak, shows how hard he played, and then takes the viewer to 1988. You will stand up and cheer. I still remember watching Tom O'Conner '63 and captain of the '62 team, with tears streaming down his face after the game. Much better than "Harvard beats Yale, 29/29".

At Wed Sep 28, 03:36:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really thought that Columbia lost the 1996 game because they were looking ahead to Dartmouth the following week. Dartmouth-Columbia was largely expected to be the title game that year, and Princeton was the classic "trap" game for the Lions.

At Wed Sep 28, 04:05:00 AM GMT+7, Blogger kgd said...

Dartmouth was really sweating the 1996 Columbia-Princeton game because if the Lions won, Dartmouth had no idea how to deal with the massive national press coverage that was coming in a fairly small press box. When we lost, despite a 6-1 record, coverage fell to a fraction of what was expected. what made that season special is that after the back-to-back losses, we had impressive wins vs. Cornell and Brown to cap an 8-2 season.

At Wed Sep 28, 04:34:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We lost that game because of a crummy call against Marcellus Wiley for excessive celebration or something absurd like that after he stopped a Princeton ball carrier or sacked the QB. That gave Princton a 15 yard gift, kept a drive alive, and led to the winning score. We had a much better team than Princeton that year and a killer defense.

At Wed Sep 28, 08:30:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post you made Jake, about the history of Tigers v Lions games.

I remember in 1996, I hark the day... sorry... Marcellus Wiley sacked the Tiger QB and did a very abbreviated sack dance - but got the flag. First down for Princeton - tough call, but I have seen many refs in our league make similar ones. They stand for no celebration - the NFL _ NO FUN League.

Also, when Jeff Otis heaved up the ball - to Fletcher at Princeton I can't believe it is already 2003- i was there - god what a great win - you have the picture there of course Jake! I remember going back to the "dinkey" and hollering "WE WON!!!" That is right readers - I am a Manhattanite - no car! There is a videotape of that win that I ordered from the station that covered the games for the Tigers, and you could see me jumping around like a maniac after the win! Ah, good times.

Jeff Otis went on to play in NFL Europe and did quite well... Fletcher tried out for the Giants - but did not make it. Either way, they were great players for CU.

At Wed Sep 28, 06:31:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Princeton game notes are out. Unlike last week no Columbia rooster/depth chart.

At Wed Sep 28, 07:40:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norries plays for his job this weekend.If we can't beat lowly Princeton, he and Dianne need to have a very serious discussion as it would seem we are no better off then 5 years ago. I'm rooting for the Lions to blow them out! Victory over the Pumpkin Heads is always the sweetest.

At Wed Sep 28, 08:04:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A simple question would need to be: "Are you better off than you were 5 years ago?"

At Wed Sep 28, 10:23:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Columbia games notes are out on the web site.

At Wed Sep 28, 11:10:00 PM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hopefully a ruse, but Mike Stephens is not listed on the two deep.

At Thu Sep 29, 01:56:00 AM GMT+7, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that this rivalry includes a disproportionate share of Columbia's unhappiest moments.


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