Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The 138th Meeting

This is what is known around here as the crossover season.

By TigerBlog's count, there will be 15 Princeton teams who compete this weekend. That's a lot. There are athletic departments that barely have 15 sports total, let alone that many competing in one weekend.

It'll be a busy few days on, as stories will fly through the front page and cycle off to their sports homepage in rapid succession. There's not really much that can be done about that, as the homepage has room for just six stories.

If TB's math is right, then those 15 teams will compete in 29 different events this weekend. That's an insane number.

Of those 29, there are 11 that will be at home.

This is what happens when fall and winter overlap. It's probably busier in February, when winter and spring collide.

This weekend is busy enough.

There is, among other things, three NCAA events on campus and a fourth on the road. It's also opening day for men's and women's basketball, and in fact there are three basketball games this weekend, two here at Jadwin Gym and another one about nine miles away.

Oh, and football.

Yeah, a big football game actually, Princeton vs. Yale on Powers Field, kickoff Saturday at 1.

So let's get back to the other stuff later in the week. Let's stick with football now.

TigerBlog has been fascinated this season by how the Tigers played six games in the first seven weeks that finished with a score the team had never had before. Well, five in seven weeks, unless you count winning 40-7 as something different, in that Princeton had lost 40-7 before. But that's semantics.

Then last week's score was 26-23 in favor of Penn. TB was pretty sure that was going to be the seventh different one, but lo and behold, in 1936, Princeton lost to Yale 26-23.

Princeton won the 1933 and 1935 national championships, going 9-0 both times. The 1934 season saw the Tigers go 8-1, with only a 7-0 loss to Yale.

The captains for the 1933 and 1935 teams, by the way, were Art Lane and Pepper Constable. Those are huge names in Princeton athletics history. In fact, the name Art Lane lives on today, as the senior athletes who make the largest contribution to sport and society at Princeton earn the Art Lane Award.

Princeton and Yale will meet for the 138th time when they get together Saturday.

Only one rivalry in college football has been played more than that, and that's Lehigh-Lafayette. On the one hand, Princeton and Yale are only 13 games behind Lehigh and Lafayette. On the other hand, they'll never catch them.

Any guesses on what the most played FBS rivalry is? A hint - these two teams will play for the 125th time in a few weeks, which would be tied for fourth on the FCS list. TB will get to that in a few paragraphs.

He's also going to look up the Division II and Division III longest rivalries. Give him a second.

Okay, he's back. In Division II it's Emporia State vs. Washburn for the 112th time and in Division III, his guess was right, as Williams and Amherst will meet for the 130th time, one more than Albion and Kalamazoo.

As for Division I, here are the top five, with the total after this year's games:
1. Lehigh-Lafayette (151)
2. Princeton-Yale (138)
3. Harvard-Yale (132)
4 - tie William & Mary-Richmond (125)
4 - tie Wisconsin-Minnesota (125)

Princeton first played Yale in 1873. Then they didn't play the next two years before playing again in 1876.

The two played ever year from then until 1917, when World War I limited Princeton to two games against non-colleges. There were three games in 1918, also against military teams (not service academies).

Princeton and Yale played in the last game of the season every year in 1890 through 1933, other than the war years. Since then, the two have played in the second-to-last game every year, other than the World War II-shortened year of 1944.

Why? Because Harvard replaced Yale as the last game of the year for the Bulldogs in 1934. Why? Nobody really seems to know.

Anyway, that's all kinds of history on display.

The present? It's two teams who will play really hard and, when the season is over, will be left to wonder what might have been were it not for all the injuries.

Princeton is 5-3 overall, 2-3 in the league. Yale is the same.

Oh, and speaking of the history, there's the case of Bailey Brower, Class of 1949. The game Saturday will be his 68th straight Princeton-Yale game and 69th overall. His wife, Taz, missed the first one, so it's only the 67th straight for her.

TigerBlog will get them on the videoboard Saturday. That'll be a nice moment.

But if you really want to appreciate how many times Princeton and Yale have played? Bailey Brower will be seeing his 69th game between the two.

That'll be exactly half.

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