Monday, October 5, 2015

First And 10-5

The final score of Princeton's win over Columbia Friday night was 10-5.

The last time Princeton football played a 10-5 game before Friday? How about never.

Princeton has played 1,246 football games, starting with the first football game ever played, back in 1869. Never before had Princeton played a 10-5 game, win or lose, before this past Friday.

Before that, how long do you think it had been since Princeton had played a football game that had a final score that the program had never before had?

Think about that. All those decades. Surely almost any combination must have come up before, right? Yes, there have been a lot of 31-17s, and 24-10s, and 28-21s and every other normal combination.

What about the abnormal ones? Like a touchdown, extra point and field goal for one team and a field goal and safety for the other.

It had to have been awhile, right?

Well, it went all the way back to the week earlier. Princeton defeated Lehigh in Week 2 this year, and it was the first 52-26 game in program history as well. Never before had Princeton played a game win or lose by that score.

And Week 1? Well, that was nothing new. Sort of.

Princeton 40, Lafayette 7. That was the second 40-7 game in program history, after the 1942 game against Army. Of course, Princeton lost that one, so the win over Lafayette was the first 40-7 win in program history.

TigerBlog finds all of this fascinating. He's not sure most people share his love for the trivial.

So that's one interesting thing about Friday night's game.

As for the rest of it? Well, it was, uh, well, er, um ... a win.

There was nothing stylish about it. There's nothing pretty about it. Princeton scored a touchdown midway through the first quarter, and neither team would cross the goal line again. Princeton led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter and wouldn't score again, and Columbia would manage only a short field goal and a blocked punt for a safety that came really close to being a touchdown.

The game was played in awful conditions, on a Friday night, on national TV. If you were interested in the game, you probably stayed home and watched it.

Attendance was listed as 3,694, which makes it the smallest crowd in Princeton Stadium history. And it's understandable why. It was pouring. It was freezing. It was windy. Yuck.

Hey, the official goprincetontigers.com recap of the game referred to the fans as "dedicated," and they certainly were. They never have to prove their loyalty again.

As for Princeton, the game might not have been pretty, but it was a must-win. The Tigers are now 3-0 on the young season, and the game Friday was the Ivy opener.

Princeton is one of four teams in the league who won their league opener, along with Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth. The last two play this coming weekend in Hanover.

The four 1-0 teams rank 1-2-3-4 in the league in both scoring offense and scoring defense. Yes, it's very, very early, but those four seem to be the front-runners at this point.

Princeton has more than its share of injuries through the early part of the season. The Tigers also play with more depth than basically any football team on the planet, which, among other things, helps offset such injuries.

Princeton leads the Ivy League in rushing offense with 226.3 yards per game, with three of the league's top 10 rushers in DiAndre Atwater, Joe Rhattigan and Dre Nelson. The Tigers are 18th in the FCS in rushing yards per game.

In recent years, the Tigers have become known for offensive balance and for offensive trickery. Against Columbia in the awful weather, Princeton ran it 43 times and threw it just 16.

So you can't really take much away from the outcome of this one, other than that it was a win.

The last time Princeton had a crowd so small was in the snow game against Cornell in 2011. But there's something a bit more fun about a game in the snow than it rain and biting wind.

Oh, and you know what used to be great about games in rain like the kind that fell Friday? The mud. The uniforms would get filthy. Nobody's number would be visible. Everyone would be covered in grain stains and caked on mud and all of that stuff that makes 1960s and 1970s NFL highlights so much fun, before artificial turf ruined all of that.

TigerBlog has been to a bunch of those in his life, especially at high schools when he was starting out in the newspaper business. And some college ones. He remembers a 1990 game between Trenton State (now the College of New Jersey) and Ramapo that was played in a total monsoon. Or Princeton at Bucknell in 1996, under similar conditions.

Now, with FieldTurf, there's none of that great mud and all.

Anyway, Princeton has six Ivy games to go, starting with back-to-back trips to Brown and Harvard later this month.

First, though, is the last non-league game, this coming Saturday, at 1, against Colgate.

The weather will be better, much better, than it was last week. TigerBlog doesn't even have to check to know that.

5 comments:

steven feldman said...

The announced attendance at the Columbia game was 3694 but the actual attendance could not have been more than three to four hundred. The Cornell 2011 snow game announced attendance was 5036, but the actual attendance was no more than about three hundred. I attended both games so I guess I am a dedicated fan.

Anonymous said...

First of all, congratulations and thanks to Mr. Steven Feldman from the reader comment above. Princeton is fortunate to have fans like him. Judging from the television broadcast, I'd say that his estimate of attendance being 300-400 is accurate.

Secondly, TB, is there some way for the coaching staff, the training staff and/or the medical staff to conduct some sort of data-based study on whether the football program suffers more than its share of injuries? Those who have played or coached football usually consider injuries to be some sort of exogenous variable -- just uncontrollable bad luck which happens to all teams. But for at least two seasons now, the Princeton team has incurred a broad swath of injuries.

If one kid on a street gets cancer, you consider that to be the luck of the draw. If half the kids on a street get cancer, you better start checking the groundwater. Is there something about the way that we train or practice which is conducive to injuries? Too much contact? Too little contact? The injuries especially seem to be on the offensive side of the ball and we try to run the "fastest" offense in college football. Is there some sort of connection?

Finally, when things slow down in the off season, how about some feature stories about dedicated fans like Mr. Feldman above? If he witnessed Cornell 2011 and Columbia 2015, he probably has a pretty extensive collection of ticket stubs. I know that there are some Princeton basketball fans who make it a point to attend all 14 Ivy games every season. I'll bet they've got some interesting stories to tell.

Ken Perry '50 said...

nI believe he worst conditions in which a Princeton team played were in the 13-7 win over Dartmouth in 1951. Princeton was undefeated and led by Kaz. A hurricane had dumped
huge amounts of water on the field which made it a quaqmire. The wind was so strong it had blow down some large trees on campus. The first punt into the wind ended up behind the kicker. Hence, no punting even on 4th down, deep in your own territory. Strategy was make an opportunity to punt with wind behind you and hold opponent deep in their territory.

As a result of this game, I believe the "rule" was changed to allow postponements when such conditions prevailed.

Check Bill Stryker's football history for more. Ken Perry '50

ken Perry '50 said...

I believe he worst conditions in which a Princeton team played were in the 13-7 win over Dartmouth in 1951. Princeton was undefeated and led by Kaz. A hurricane had dumped
huge amounts of water on the field which made it a quaqmire. The wind was so strong it had blow down some large trees on campus. The first punt into the wind ended up behind the kicker. Hence, no punting even on 4th down, deep in your own territory. Strategy was make an opportunity to punt with wind behind you and hold opponent deep in their territory.

As a result of this game, I believe the "rule" was changed to allow postponements when such conditions prevailed.

Check Bill Stryker's football history for more. Ken Perry '50

steven feldman said...

I actually do have a very extensive collection of football stubs and football programs going all the way back to the 1920's when my father Mortimer Feldman '29 went to the games. I do not have the stub but my dad saw Princeton play Notre Dame in 1924 at the old Palmer Stadium. He also saw Princeton beat Ohio State in 1927; I have a ticket stub from that game. My goal now is to still be going to the Princeton football games in 2023. That would make 100 years of the Feldman family attending Princeton football games. I may be one of the only people who actually have dry, mint condition programs from the 2011 snow game and last Friday's rain game against Columbia.
Steven Feldman '68