Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Jacob Birmelin Trivia Question

TigerBlog has a trivia question regarding Princeton wide receiver Jacob Birmelin. 

Before he gets there, though, here are some other college football thoughts from this past weekend: 

Did you see the play in the Pitt-Wake Forest game where the Pitt quarterback went into a fake slide but stayed up and went on to score a touchdown?

Fret not, you can see it here:

Thoughts? Here's TigerBlog's: That should be a dead ball at the point where he starts to slide and then a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. 

You cannot have quarterbacks faking slides, because then what is the defense supposed to do? If the Wake defenders had hit him when he started the fake, it would have been a penalty and likely ejection against them.

Safety rules exist for a reason, and that's to keep players healthy. They're not to be exploited like that.

Speaking of the weekend in college football, TigerBlog was rooting for Notre Dame to get into the playoff. Why? Because Brian Kelly has always made it impossible to root for the Irish, and so TB wanted to see ND win it all once he and his fake southern accent bailed for LSU.

Instead, it'll be Alabama-Cincinnati and Georgia-Michigan. TB roots for Georgia in the Power 5 football world, but he thinks Alabama wins it all. He always thinks that.

While it didn't end up mattering as far as the playoff is concerned, the end of the Oklahoma State-Baylor game in the Big 12 game might have been the best ending in college football history. Seriously, that's how incredible it was. You want to say the pass by Doug Flutie in 1984 against Miami? Okay. This had to be the best defensive play ever to end a game.

Jairon McVea, a former Baylor walk-on, found himself in a one-on-one situation with Oklahoma State running back Dezmon Jackson. Baylor led 21-16 and time was running out. It was also a fourth-and-goal play, the 16th play of a drive that had covered 89 yards. 

 Ok State ran a perfectly executed play with a fake up the middle and then a run to the left by Jackson. At some point, McVea said to himself "oh no" as he realized that it was either an open field tackle or a Baylor loss. 

You can see the game-saving tackle at the 3:20 mark.

If you go to the 1:20 mark, you can see Drew Estrada make a touchdown reception that gave Baylor a 14-3 lead. Estrada is, of course, a Dartmouth alum who is spending a grad student year at Baylor.

Watching Estrada play at Dartmouth had to be something along the lines of watching Jacob Birmelin play at Princeton for an opposing fan. In short, it means that every time the ball was thrown in their general direction, your reaction as a fan of the other team was what McVea had to be thinking on that decisive play: "Oh no."

Estrada and Birmelin had somewhat similar numbers in the Ivy League. Estrada had more receiving touchdowns (10-6) and yards per catch (12.9-12.2), but Birmelin had more catches (131-110) and yards (1,595-1,418). Neither ever dropped anything routine and usually made the less-than-routine seem easy.

Both were outstanding punt returners. Estrada had more chances to run the ball from scrimmage, but Birmelin's average per run was better. 

All of this brings TigerBlog to the aforementioned trivia question. Birmelin finished his career as one of four Princeton players ever to have two seasons of at least 60 receptions. Who were the other three?

His senior year saw him lead the Ivy League with 64 catches while earning first-team All-Ivy League honors. He's not a Bushnell Cup finalist, but he would have been had TigerBlog been in charge of choosing them. He's the kind of player you appreciate the more you see him play. Birmelin's 133 catches rank eighth all-time at Princeton, despite only being a two-year starter.

And the trivia answer?

Derek Graham, Kevin Guthrie and Jesper Horsted. Did you get it right?

When you're in that company, you've stamped yourself as an all-time great.

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