Behind an efficient offense and stingy defense, Cornell has won two games in a row but faces a tough road test against No. 17 Colgate. And while downing the Raiders on the road will be tough, the Red knows it can be done — Cornell stunned Colgate with a huge fourth-quarter comeback when the teams met in Hamilton in 2016.
How to watch or listen:
Video on Patriot League Network (no subscription needed), radio in Ithaca on WHCU 97.7 FM/870 AM.
The historic upstate New York matchup will be played for the 100th time this weekend. Cornell leads the all-time series, 49-47-3, but Colgate has dominated the Red in recent decades — the Raiders have won 31 of the last 39 meetings. Colgate won seven straight leading up to the Red’s 39-38 victory in 2016, and downed Cornell, 21-7, in Ithaca last year.
Cornell last time out:
The Red scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to down Ivy rival Harvard, 28-24, for the second straight year and improve its conference record to 1-1. Junior wide receiver Owen Peters had five catches for 112 yards, none bigger than his 33-yard touchdown catch which sealed the victory.
Colgate last time out:
The red-hot undefeated Raiders (5-0) downed Bucknell, 27-3, last week. The tough Colgate defense limited the Bison to 35 rushing yards, and the Raiders have give up just six points in their last four games.
Scouting the Raiders:
The Raiders come into the contest with the country’s best defense, allowing a stunningly low 4.6 points per game. In Colgate’s last four wins, it has allowed three, zero, zero and three points, respectively. Senior linebacker T.J. Holl has 42 tackles, and the Raiders allow 248.2 total yards per game, third-best in FCS. Offensively, Colgate is paced by running back James Holland, who averages 76.8 rushing yards per game and has five touchdowns. The Raiders average 164 rushing yards per game.
Head coach David Archer ’05 on the Colgate defense: “They run to the ball and they play really, really hard. They’re exceptional on third down, so we got to stay ahead of the sticks [and] establish our run game.”
Quarterback Dalton Banks on the Raider defense and avoiding turnovers: “They’ve done a good job playing off and letting teams take the flats. That’s what they do, they try to bait you into taking some deep throws … that’s where you’ve got to stay disciplined and stick to the gameplan.”
Cornell beats Colgate if:
… it can benefit from a 2016-esque miracle, and if the defense can set up the offense for easy success. The odds aren’t great for a Cornell team looking to knock off a nationally ranked team with a stellar defensive unit, but the Red knows it can be done. If the defense, a strength for Cornell the last two weeks, can set up the offense for scores, the Red can keep up with the Raiders. A defensive or special teams touchdown, plus the creation of short fields for Banks and company, will give Cornell the scoring support it needs.
What they’re saying in Ithaca:
Junior safety Jelani Taylor on the defensive matchup: “Everybody knows they have a tough defense, we also feel like we have a great defense so it’s going to be a tough battle but we just have to do what we can do — not give up points and hopefully force some turnovers so we can help our offense out.”
Taylor on the 100th meeting between the two programs: “A lot of times people think of non-conference matchups as ‘oh, it’s not that serious,’ but Colgate’s definitely one that’s serious to us.”
Banks on the 2016 comeback win: “I remember it being the most insane feeling afterwards … We’ve got to know that we’re always in the game.”
What they’re saying in Hamilton:
Defensive back Tyler Castillo on the Colgate defense in last week’s win over Bucknell: “I’ve got to credit the defensive line, always getting a push on the quarterback, putting them in bad positions and making them force some throws. We always preach runners and hitters as a defense, and we have 11 of those on the field at all times. It’s nice to play with this squad, led by T.J. Holl and Nick Wheeler.”
Junior kicker/punter Nickolas Null, who also missed last week’s game against Harvard, will miss the remainder of the 2018 season after undergoing knee surgery.
Freshman Koby Kiefer will take over punting duties while senior Zach Mays, who has taken most of the kickoffs this season, will resume his position as field goal kicker after fighting injuries the past two seasons.
“He can definitely return to his old form,” Archer said of Mays, adding of Kiefer: “He’s done a nice job with the amount of times we’ve asked him to punt.” Kiefer had nine punts against Harvard with an average of 37 yards and long of 56.
Null had been playing through a knee injury that he sustained during a preseason game, but a recent MRI scan showed the damage was severe enough to require surgery, which he had last Friday.
The Cornell-Colgate series has been all Raiders recently, but the Red went 13-0-1 in the teams’ first 14 meetings from 1896 through 1911.
Fun fact about the Raiders:
The number 13 is considered lucky at Colgate because the university was founded by “13 men who each offered 13 dollars and 13 prayers.”