Penn (5-2, 4-0 Ivy League) at Princeton (5-2, 3-1 Ivy League)
Princeton Stadium, Princeton, N.J.
Saturday, noon, CSN
With a big chance to take another step toward at least a piece of its second straight Ivy League title, Penn makes a short trip to clash with its biggest rival. Here’s a look at what’s on tap:
After thoroughly trouncing Yale two weeks ago, the Quakers had a bit more trouble last week, fending off a second-half Brown comeback to win, 21-14, in front of a homecoming crowd. Once again, wide receiver Justin Watson was the star of the show, catching 11 passes for a career-high 210 yards a week after setting a previous career high of 160 yards and three touchdowns. Watson — who enjoys near-perfect chemistry with quarterback Alek Torgersen and a promising partnership with fellow playmakers Christian Pearson and Tre Solomon — currently ranks 15th in the FCS in receiving yards with 807. Meanwhile, Penn’s defense continues to improve. Once ranked near the bottom of the Ivies, the Quakers are currently fourth in scoring defense and fifth in total defense.
The Tigers are decidedly one of the favorites to win the Ivy League championship with their only conference loss coming to unbeaten Harvard in overtime two weeks ago. Before then, Princeton won four of its first five games, including two easy league wins. And after the loss to the Crimson, the Tigers trounced Cornell, 56-7, last week behind a staggering seven touchdowns from quarterback John Lovett (four passing, two rushing, one receiving). Lovett, the FCS touchdown leader, actually shares snaps with Chad Kanoff, who handles more of the passing. Princeton also boasts a dual threat at running back with Joe Rhattigan and Charlie Volker ranking fifth and sixth in the Ivies in rushing. As a whole, the Tigers are perhaps the Ivy League’s best statistical team, ranking first in scoring offense (35.6 points per game) and total offense (423.9 yards per game) and fourth in the entire FCS in rushing defense (79.9 yards per game).
Princeton leads the overall series 65-41-1 as the two teams prepare for their 108th meeting. But Penn is 23-10 since 1983 and is 8-2 all-time at Princeton Stadium. Last year, the Quakers beat Princeton in one of their most dramatic games in recent memory, blocking a short field goal at the end of regulation before winning in overtime at Franklin Field.
Storyline to watch
Trying to come up with a defensive game plan for two quarterbacks is difficult for anyone, and Penn will likely be no different. And on the other side of the ball, it will be fun to watch the Ivy League’s top rusher in Tre Solomon try to move the chains against of the nation’s premier run defenses.
What’s at stake?
This is one of the biggest games of the season for both teams. On top of the heated rivalry, Princeton needs to win to stay in the hunt for a piece of the title while Penn needs to win to potentially set up a battle of the unbeateans next Friday vs. Harvard under the lights of Franklin Field.
The Tigers will be out for vengeance after last year but they may have a hard time slowing down Penn’s dynamic passing attack.
Penn 28, Princeton 27