Wednesday, July 7, 2021

The 2021 Football Schedule

The Princeton football team has played more than half of its all-time games in the state of New Jersey. 

In fact, for awhile there, the Tigers played about 90 percent of their games in New Jersey, since almost every game for a few decades was a home game. Can you remember the last time Princeton played a football game in the state of New Jersey that wasn't on the Princeton campus?

TigerBlog can. It was in 1997, the year of the construction of Princeton Stadium. The Tigers played eight away games and two neutral site games that year, one against Fordham at the College of New Jersey and the other against Yale at the old Giants Stadium.

How about before that?

TigerBlog didn't have to look it up to get the correct answer. For a long time, Princeton had only two Division I football teams, Princeton and Rutgers, and their rivalry dated back quite a long way, back to the very first football game to be exact, back in 1869. The answer is Rutgers, though the overwhelming majority of the games in that series were played in Palmer Stadium.

So that begs the next question. When did Princeton play a game in New Jersey that was not either on campus, in 1997 or at Rutgers? Think about it for a second.

TigerBlog brings this up because the 2021 football schedule was released yesterday. The Tigers open the season Sept. 18 at Lehigh, with the home opener a week later against Stetson. 

Here are your notes on those two games: 1) Lehigh is an awesome place to watch a football game and 2) Princeton's game against Stetson was supposed to bring former Tiger head coach Roger Hughes back for a homecoming, only Hughes left Stetson to become the president of Doane University in Nebraska. Hughes is a Doane alum.

The Ivy for Princeton will be Oct. 2 at home against Columbia in a game that will be televised on NBS Sports Philly and SNY in New York City, as well as ESPN+. 

The following week is the third non-league game. That one is at Monmouth, which is why TB was wondering when the last time Princeton played away from home but still in New Jersey. 

Princeton and Monmouth have met once, in the unbeaten season of 2018, when Princeton won 51-9. Do not be fooled though – Monmouth is a very, very good team. The Hawks have played in the last two FCS playoff tournaments and figure to be a preseason Top 25 team. That should be a very good game.

Also, Monmouth has a great facility. And it's not too far away from the Long Branch beachfront, which means there are all kinds of really good places to eat in the area.

Oh, and the answer to the trivia question? It was also in the ’90s - the 1890s, when Princeton played at Lawrenceville in the 1896 season. The last time Princeton played a game in New Jersey against a college team? At Stevens Tech in 1886.

After the Monmouth game, Princeton will have six straight Ivy games, only two of which will be at home. Those two are against Harvard (Oct. 23) and Yale (Nov. 13). 

There will a game at Brown the week before the Harvard game. There will be back-to-back Friday night ESPNU games at Cornell and Dartmouth after the Harvard game. The season ends on Nov. 20 at Penn.

What kind of team will Princeton have in 2021? It should be a good one, a team with as good a chance as any to compete for the league title. That's the program Bob Surace has built at Princeton now, with a team that is built to win every year. 

The proof is in the numbers - Surace has led the Tigers to the Ivy title in three of the last seven seasons.

This should be an extremely tough, and somewhat unpredictable, Ivy League football season. Because no teams played last year, there are large numbers of players who took a year off and two classes of younger players who have yet to see game action. 

Beyond all of that, though, there is just the excitement of another football season that is just around the corner. Fans will be in the building. Games will be on the field. 

TigerBlog, for one, can't wait for the kickoff.

1 comment:

Richard Rein said...

I'm curious. Is it unusual that the 2021 Ivy League schedule for Princeton is overloaded with away games? And will it shift in the opposite direction in 2022?