Friday, November 8, 2013

Here's A Toast

TigerBlog, as a Penn alum, is regularly asked about his rooting interest when the Quakers play Princeton. That's the first question.

The second question he's asked is what's up with the toast?

The answer to the first is "Princeton."

The answer to the second is that it comes from a song that is sung between the third and fourth quarters. It's called "Drink a Highball," and it starts out with "Drink a highball, at nightfall, dear fellows while we may."

The last line of the song is "here's a toast to dear old Penn."

When the line is sung, the tradition is for the fans to throw a piece of toast onto the field.

It started out as raising a glass in an actual toast, and the piece of bread became the substitute when alcohol was no longer allowed. As TB remembers it, that was in the 1960s or 1970s.

TB is always fascinated by the Princeton-Penn games that the bands are at, in that he knows all of the songs from both schools.

He'll hear them tomorrow when he's at Franklin Field for the Princeton-Penn football game.

To say it's a big one is too obvious.

Princeton is the lone undefeated team in the league at 4-0, followed by the only one-loss teams, Penn and Harvard. Penn follows its game with Princeton with a game next weekend at Harvard.

Should Princeton win, it would be two up on Penn with two to go (and probably one up on Harvard, who plays Columbia). Should Penn win, then there'd be a tie between the Tigers and Quakers. Harvard would join them with a win over Columbia.

Princeton's last win at Franklin Field came in 2005. It's last win over Penn came in 2006.

The scores of the last few Princeton-Penn games:
2012 - Penn 28, Princeton 21
2011 - Penn 37, Princeton 9
2010 - Penn 52, Princeton 10
2009 - Penn 42, Princeton 7

Last year's game was obviously close, and Princeton actually had some pretty good chances to win it. Penn rallied to win it, and then completed a perfect Ivy season.

Princeton-Penn football has never had the impact on either school's fan base that Princeton-Penn men's baskeball has. Nor has it been historically what Princeton-Harvard and Princeton-Yale football has been.

Princeton is trying its best to change that.

This is certainly the biggest game in the series since, well, last year, when a Princeton win would have changed the league race. Before that, it was the 2006 game.

Princeton's last win over Penn came in the same year as Princeton's last Ivy title. It was also an epic game, one of the best Princeton games ever.

If you recall, Princeton won 31-30 in two overtimes, the second of which included the famous 4th-and-goal play where Jeff Terrell took a lateral from Rob Toresco and scored and then the missed extra point by Penn that almost inadvertently turned into the winning two-point conversion.

This Princeton team is unlike any, well, ever. Right now at least, though seven games.

Princeton is completely obliterating the school's record book for points (45.1) and yards per game (544.3), and each week has been wild.

Down 17-0 to Brown? How about 39 straight points.

Showdown at Harvard? 51-48 in three OTs.

Letdown against Cornell? Quinn Epperly completes his first 29 passes.

Princeton is way more than Epperly, no matter how much attention nationally he's starting to get and no matter how great he has been.

Princeton's offense has seven players who average at least 5.5 yards per carry, including all five who have rushed at least 32 times. Amazingly, no player has carried the ball more than 81 times.

There are 16 players - three of whom are quarterbacks - who have caught a pass.

All the talk of the offense obscures the defense, which allows 24.1 points per game. Take out the Harvard game and that's 20.1 per game.

All of which brings us to tomorrow and Franklin Field.

Penn's football success has always been built around its defense. This year's team allows 23.6 points per game overall and 20.5 in Ivy League games.

On top of that, Penn comes into this one having lost 27-0 at Brown last week. The Quakers have no margin for error at all.

The whole goal of the Princeton football season is to get to the final three weeks of the season in position to play big games, championship-level games.

To that end, Princeton has clearly done that.

Now the goals get bigger for the final three weeks, none of which will be easy.

At Penn. Home with Yale. At Dartmouth.

With a lot to play for each time.

School songs? That's a draw.

The game won't be. Someone will win. And the league race will be greatly affected by which one it is.

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