Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday Night Lights


Unless there's a big game on a particular night, TigerBlog will write the next day's post and then set it to go live in the middle of the night. He meant to set yesterday's to go live at 1:48, except he actually entered 11:48, so it wasn't until the middle of the morning that he noticed the error and made it go live.

In other words, if you were looking for it early in the morning, it wasn't there. TigerBlog apologizes for that.

Speaking of early mornings, there's the latest edition of "Beyond The Stripes." This week's episode of the video series focuses on P.J. Greenbaum, a Naval ROTC student who walked - swam? - onto the men's water polo team this fall.

Greenbaum's family has a long history at Princeton in athletics and in military service, and those are both continuing with the current generation. It's a very inspirational story, and it's definitely worth the 4:27.

You can see it HERE.

Speaking of the men's water polo team, TigerBlog ran into Oliver Schmickel the other day. Oliver is a senior goalie on the men's lacrosse team, but he's spending this fall also as a member of the men's water polo team.

In case you missed yesterday's entry because it wasn't there until after you looked, TigerBlog mentioned that there are three opportunities to see the men's water polo team at DeNunzio Pool this weekend: tomorrow against MIT (11) and Brown (5) and Sunday against Harvard (noon).

There will also be home games in field hockey (Sunday at 1 against Boston University), men's soccer (tomorrow at 1 against Dartmouth) and women's soccer (tomorrow at 4 against Dartmouth), as well as a home women's golf invitational.

The football team is on the road tonight, with the short trip to Columbia. Well, presumably short, depending on traffic and all.

Kickoff tonight is at 6, and you can see the game on ESPNU. The game matches a pair of teams who are 2-0 on the young season, both with two non-league wins.

If you want a completely misleading stat, here's a good one: Both coaches are two games under .500 at their current schools.

That's pretty funny actually.

Yes, Bob Surace is now 40-42 at Princeton. On the other hand, that's after a 2-20 start, leaving him 38-22 in his last 60 games.

Yes, Al Bangoli is 15-17 at Columbia. On the other hand, he inherited a program that had won 15 of its previous 79 games before his arrival. Even better than 15-17, he's 11-2 in his last 13.

Columbia has opened its season with wins over Central Connecticut (44-24) and Georgetown (23-15). A win tonight would make Columbia 3-0 for the second straight year; prior to that, the Lions were 3-0 only three other times since 1940.

If you're looking for a more meaningful number, consider Princeton's rushing offense against Columbia's rushing defense. Through two games, Columbia ranks second in the FCS in rushing defense, allowing 35.0 yards per game.

Princeton, on the other hand, is fifth in the FCS in rushing offense, averaging 304.5 yards per game. Granted, this is the small sample size of two weeks of non-league games, but that really leaps out at you.

Princeton has multiple backs who can go, and have gone, for 35 yards on any given run, for that matter.

Columbia also ranks 22nd in total defense (309 yards per game) and 23rd in scoring defense (19.5). Princeton ranks second in both, with 577.5 yards and 50.5 points.

Princeton is actually ranked ahead of Columbia in total defense (17th) and scoring defense (fifth).

This will of course be a different challenge for Princeton, against a team that 1) has one of the best defenses in the country and 2) that has played Princeton before. Remember, Princeton's first two opponents - Butler and Monmouth - had never played Princeton before, ever in their histories, and so it was a whole new look and feel.

Columbia will not be surprised by anything the Tigers do.

The game against Columbia is Princeton's only Ivy game in the first four weeks. Next week will be a home game against Lehigh, followed by six Ivy games to end the year, of which only two will be on the road - at Harvard and at Yale.

Of course, there will be nobody from Princeton who isn't aware of what happened last year, when Columbia hit on a 63-yard touchdown pass with 1:12 left to shock the Tigers 28-24. That loss did a lot to derail Princeton's hopes of repeating its 2016 Ivy title.

So that's the backdrop for the Ivy opener. There won't be a championship won tonight, and there won't be a championship lost tonight.

Still, it's a good opportunity to get some questions answered.

You already know Princeton has a lot of offensive weapons and a strong defense. You know Columbia is nothing like the Columbia of the past.

It should be a good one to watch.

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