Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Best Ivy League Football Game Since ... Two Years Ago

As TigerBlog saw it last weekend, there were four football teams that had a right to feel crushed when the weekend was over.

In reverse order of when the games were played, there was one NFL game. The Giants, if you saw it, lost 52-49 to the Saints on a day when Eli Manning threw six touchdown passes and had it not be enough.

Manning, in fact, moved into 10th place all time in NFL history in career touchdown passes with 276, as he moved past two players in the game. One was Joe Montana. The other? Vinny Testaverde.

Yes, part of that is how the game is played now. In fact, Manning only ranked second in the game Sunday in career TD passes, behind New Orleans QB Drew Brees, who threw seven of his own, giving him 411, good for fifth.

On the other hand, Manning, ranked 10th all-time in TD passes and only 14 away from Johnny Unitas and with two Super Bowl rings, has to be a Hall of Fame lock, right?

Anyway, New York led 49-42 late in the game. Then the Saints tied it in the final minute and forced a punt with about 15 seconds left. Did the Giants learn nothing from the DeSean Jackson debacle of several years ago? Apparently not.

The punt was returned, and a weird facemask penalty added 15 yards, leading to a game-winning 50-yard field goal on the final play. The penalty was weird not because it wasn't a facemask but because it came on a ball that was being illegally advanced. New Orleans recovered the fumble, but because it was fumbled forward and not recovered by the fumbler in the final two minutes, it can't be advanced.

It's not a penalty though. It's just returned to the spot of the fumble if the fumbling team recovered. So the Giants were done in by 15 yards tacked on on a ball that could not legally be advanced. Weird, right?

Two of the other teams played Saturday night.

One was Temple, which lost fair and square to Notre Dame 24-20 but came really, really close to knocking off the Irish and vaulting itself into the national championship conversation at least.

The other was Duke, who "lost" to Miami. By now you've seen the last play, the one with the eight laterals, three penalties, one downed player, several helmetless players who ran onto the field while play was still going, 20-minute replay review and ultimately suspended officiating crew.

Why, TigerBlog wonders, can't the ACC simply award the game to Duke? Because it's against the rules? That's a cowardly way out. Have the guts to say "hey, Duke won the game. The ACC will officially recognize it as such."

The fourth team is, of course, Dartmouth.

The Big Green dominated Harvard for 53 minutes or so Friday night in a huge Ivy League football game. Then Harvard did what happens so often in football - got a touchdown, stop and touchdown, pulling a 14-13 win out of a 13-0 deficit.

Yes, a 13-0 lead with seven minutes left seems big. No, it isn't. It can change so quickly. And it did.

TigerBlog watched the game, and it was a great one. He loves games like that, where yards and points are hard to come by. Dartmouth had a great, epic, one-for-the-ages goal line stand early in the fourth quarter, and it was what football in its purest form is supposed to be.

The game matched two 6-0 teams, and obviously the winner was going to have a huge inside track to the Ivy title. As TB said, the game was great - but he isn't ready to anoint it as the greatest game the Ivy League has seen in a long time.

Unless you count two years as a long time. And three years.

In case the short, 140-character attention-spanned world has forgotten, there was the matter of the two Princeton-Harvard games of 2012 and 2013.

In 2012, Princeton trailed 34-10 with 12 minutes left and won 39-34. That game was a great one.

The 2013 one was better. In that one, the Tigers won 51-48 in three overtimes. Both games ended with touchdown passes from Quinn Epperly to Roman Wilson. The 2013 win propelled Princeton to the Ivy League championship.

Oh, and that 2013 game? It was tied 21-21 at the half, 28-28 at the end of the third and 35-35 at the end of regulation. There were nearly 1,000 yards of offense.

So how do those three games rank, Princeton-Harvard in 2012, Princeton-Harvard in 2013, Harvard-Dartmouth in 2015?

TigerBlog surmises that it's a matter of taste. As he said, he loves defensive battles, but shootouts are fun too. And he assumes he can ask a fairly random group of Ivy football fans and get those games ranked in just about any order.

And what would TigerBlog conclude?

It's hard to beat that 2013 Princeton-Harvard game.

1 comment:

gogringo said...

what about the Dartmouth Penn 4 overtime game where Penn blocked last second and went on to win it