Wednesday, November 21, 2018

An Epic Fall

Before anything else today, TigerBlog would like to remind you that there is a home men's basketball game tonight, at 7, against Fairleigh Dickinson.

It's a great chance for some pre-Thanksgiving entertainment.

Now that he's reminded you of that, TigerBlog was on I-95 on his way to Princeton yesterday when he glanced at the car next to him and saw a man wearing a Todd Gurley Los Angeles Rams jersey.

He gave the guy a thumbs up.

If, like TigerBlog, you stayed up all the way to the end of the Monday Night Football game to see the end of the Rams' 54-51 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in a matchup of 9-1 teams, then you saw quite possibly the best regular-season NFL game of all time.

It was the first time in NFL history that a team scored 50 and lost. There were 1,001 yards of offense, of which 827 came through the air. There were 14 touchdowns, of which three were defensive TDs.

Mostly it was a showcase of two of the best young quarterbacks in the league - KC's Patrick Mahomes and LA's Jared Goff.

Will these teams play again in the Super Bowl? If so, could they come close to matching this one?

Of course Princeton football season has come and gone, and the Tigers were a perfect 10-0. The All-Ivy team was released yesterday, and Princeton had nine first-team selections and 18 overall.

TB was a bit stunned to see that Jesper Horsted somehow wasn't a unanimous first-team selection, but hey, if that's his biggest complaint for a football season, he can deal with it.

The football season was extraordinary, but it was hardly the only story in Princeton Athletics this fall. In fact, it's hard to imagine too many seasons have ever been better than the one that isn't quite compete just yet. 

Princeton has eight teams that compete for league championships, and here's the rundown:
* five championships
* two runners-up
* one third place

And the team that finished third, women's cross country, turned around from that and finished second in a loaded NCAA regional to reach the NCAA finals, where the Tigers finished 21st in the country. The men's cross country team, the Ivy champ, won its regional and finished 22nd nationally.

The two teams that finished second were the field hockey team, which got revenge on Ivy-champ Harvard with a 2-1 win to get to the NCAA Final Four, and the women's volleyball team, which fell one game short of Yale and which had won three straight championships prior to that.

Yes, it's been quite a fall.

TigerBlog still hasn't had a chance to mention the Princeton-Michigan men's soccer opening round NCAA tournament game, played this past Thursday on a snowy night in Ann Arbor (while it was also a snowy night in New Jersey). Ivy champ Princeton and Michigan were even at 1-1 after regulation and two overtimes, so the game officially is recorded as a tie.

Ah, but someone had to advance to the next round, and so what do they do in this situation? Penalty kicks.

This is a horrible way to decide a game, TB has always said. Keep playing until someone scores. If you know you can't advance without scoring, you're going to play to score. Do what field hockey does - take four players off the field, and someone will score quickly.

Instead, it was PKs. The team that is ahead after five wins, and then after that it becomes sudden death. Princeton and Michigan went through 14 grueling, excruciating rounds before the Wolverines won 11-10.

Did you see what happened to Michigan in the next game, at Notre Dame Sunday? The Wolverines played another tie, this one 0-0, and went back to penalty kicks again, only to lose this time. And how many rounds? How about 12, this time on the wrong side of an 11-10 score.

By the way, the NCAA doesn't keep records for most PKs in an NCAA game, so there's no way to know if the 14 rounds for Princeton-Michigan are the most ever. TB will go out on a limb and say that Michigan's 26 in two rounds definitely are.

The fall still isn't over, since the men's water polo team still has the NCAA tournament in which to compete. Princeton hosts George Washington Saturday at 1 in DeNunzio Pool, with the winner to fly to Stanford to play UCLA.

And then an epic fall season will be over. Usually when you say "an epic fall," it's a bad thing, right? Not at Princeton this fall.

Oh, and tomorrow is Thanksgiving. If you've been reading TB since the beginning, you might remember that he says the same thing each Thanksgiving, so he'll again share that with you:

As holidays go, you can't do much better than Thanksgiving. It's got it all, really: a huge meal (with turkey, no less), football, family, history (dates back to 1621), start of a four-day weekend for most people, leftovers. It's even a secular holiday, so every American can dive right in, regardless of religion.

The Lions and the Cowboys, obviously, always play at home on Thanksgiving, and the NFL has now added a third game (maybe a little too much). Beyond watching football, how many out there have played their own Thanksgiving football games, all of which, by the way, are named "the Turkey Bowl?"

The holiday may lag behind Christmas in terms of great Hollywood movies, and "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" is no match for "A Charlie Brown Christmas" or "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Still, there are some great moments in movies and TV shows around Thanksgiving.

Rocky and Adrian had their first date on Thanksgiving – "To you it's Thanksgiving; to me it's Thursday," Rocky said romantically – as did Meadow and Jackie Jr. on "The Sopranos" (it didn't quite work out as well as it did for Rocky and Adrian). "Everybody Loves Raymond" had two pretty good Thanksgiving episodes, the one where Marie makes a low-fat dinner and the one where Debra makes fish instead of turkey. As an aside, TigerBlog's Aunt Regina once made Cornish game hens instead of turkey, so he knows how they all felt. And of course, there was the Thanksgiving episode of "Cheers," which has the big food fight at the end.

The Woody Allen movie "Hannah and Her Sisters" starts and ends on two different Thanksgivings. "Miracle on 34th Street" is a Christmas movie, but it does start with the Thanksgiving parade in New York City.

And of course, there is the best of all Thanksgiving movies: "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." It'll make you laugh a lot and cry a little, and it ends on Thanksgiving.

TB wishes everyone a great holiday and hopes that maybe you take a few minutes to think about what you really are thankful for these days.

Happy Thanksgiving, Tigers.

1 comment:

Steven J. Feldman '68 said...

There was one amazing statistic that was mostly unmentioned in all the articles about Princeton's football win over Penn. Princeton's defense held Penn to 2 total yards of rushing.