Friday, October 16, 2015

At Brown Stadium

The grass at the house next door was being cut just as TigerBlog and Miss TigerBlog pulled up yesterday afternoon.

It was a Thursday, which means it was TB's turn to pick up the four girls in the field hockey carpool - MTB, Amy, Michelle and Alexa. It dawned on TB yesterday that if he was a senior psych major at Princeton, he'd write his thesis on the difference between driving four 15-year-old girls and four 15-year-old boys home from sports practices.

Ah, but that's for another time.

Today TB starts out with the freshly cut grass. He's always loved that smell, probably because he's fortunate not to suffer from hay fever.

For some reason, getting out of the car at that exact early evening moment took him back to the smell of all of those high school football games he covered all those years ago, beginning nearly 35 years ago actually. It smelled just like so many games under so many lights on so many freshly cut grass fields.

TigerBlog was recently asked about his earliest days in the newspaper business, and he replied that he has never forgotten the first four games he covered, including the final scores and the beginning of the stories he wrote about them. That's sort of weird, no?

His memory drifted immediately from high school to college football games that he's covered, and specifically to Brown Stadium.

If you've never been there, the stadium sits in a residential area about a mile from the campus and the other athletic facilities. It has no stands in either end zone, just a large grandstand on one side and small bleachers on the other. Seating capacity is 20,000.

The Ivy League has some pretty old stadiums. They all have their charms.

For some reason, TigerBlog has always loved Brown Stadium. Maybe it's because Princeton plays there this time of year, when the weather for football is perfect. Maybe it's the gigantic chocolate chip cookies in the press box.

Speaking of the press box, it's nowhere near the field. There's no elevator, and walking up to the top of the stadium - especially carrying a bunch of stuff like radio equipment or media guides, which TB used to drag up there - is not a lot of fun.

The three worst walks to the press box in the Ivy League are Harvard, Brown and Penn. The walk at TigerBlog's alma mater isn't as bad as it was when the big press box at the very top was used, as opposed to the press section in the stands now.

On the other hand, getting to the broadcast area at Franklin Field isn't easy, what with having to walk to the top of the lower section, then find the entrance to the overhang and then walk back down - all without banging your head on the really low-hanging metal.

Brown Stadium offers very little in the way of frills. And it's very cramped in the press box. But it's a fun place to see a game.

Princeton will be playing at the old stadium tomorrow at noon in a huge game as the season reaches the midway point.

This is the first time since 1968 that three Ivy teams have made it to 4-0. It's mathematically impossible for all of them to get to 6-0, since two of them, Princeton and Harvard, play next week in Cambridge.

Should Princeton be looking ahead to that game, then it will find itself in trouble.

Brown is 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the league, with its lone league game having been a 53-27 loss to Harvard. The Bears have won two straight, defeating Rhode Island and Holy Cross.

Princeton, along with Harvard and Dartmouth, is 4-0. The only Ivy game for the Tigers to date is a 10-5 win over Columbia.

Princeton is the No. 1 rushing team in the Ivy League and the No. 18 rushing team in the FCS. Brown? It's the No. 1 passing team in the Ivy League and the No. 2 passing team in the FCS.

Princeton throws for 216.8 yards per game - which is skewed, because Princeton only threw for 56 against Columbia - while Brown goes for just under 400. Brown, on the other hand, runs for fewer than 90 yards per game, compared to the 231 per game that Princeton gets (again, skewed, as Princeton had 127 against Columbia).

On the other hand, Brown's D is third against the rush and Princeton's D is fourth against the pass. And second in interceptions and sacks. That's in the league.

It's not too hard to figure out what each team will do. Princeton wants balance. Brown wants to throw it all over the place.

It's a matter of stopping the other. In a game both teams desperately need, Brown to give itself a chance to stay in the race, Princeton to keep pace with Harvard and Dartmouth, who are both 2-0 in the league already.

Oh, and TigerBlog completely forgot to mention this earlier in the week. Again, Princeton played a game with a final score that had never before happened in program history. This is astonishing for TigerBlog.

Maybe it shouldn't be. But it is.

Princeton defeated Colgate 44-20. Never before had there been a 44-20 game in program history. Just like there'd never been a 10-5 game, or a 52-26 game (the final against Lehigh). Or a 40-7 win (like the Week 1 win over Lafayette), though there'd been a 40-7 loss.

Does this fascinate you as much as it does TigerBlog?

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