There’s one thing that can be said of football’s 66-0 loss at Princeton: it wasn’t on national television.
This week’s game will be. Cornell will take on Penn Friday at 6 p.m. under the lights at Schoellkopf, and ESPNU will be in Ithaca to bring the game to the masses. It will be a chance for the Red to hold onto a shred of hope for an Ivy title and paint over last week’s disappointment on a big stage.
“Sometimes in life you have unexpected horrific adversity, whether it’s in your academics or career or personal life,” said head coach David Archer ‘05. “It’s how you respond that matters.”
Last week marked Cornell’s second Ivy league loss, essentially removing the team from title contention. But with three league games left on the slate, the Red is finding no shortage of reasons to win.
“It’s not over yet,” Archer said. “The league title is still in reach but we’re certainly playing for each other and for a chance to beat a league opponent we thought we should’ve last year.”
Penn edged out the Red last year, 29-22, for its fourth straight win over Cornell. The Quakers finished last season 4-3 in the Ivy league after starting 0-3. Penn started slowly this year, too, but now stands at 2-2 in the league with losses to Dartmouth and Yale. The Quakers boast a top-20 defense in scoring, total yards and passing yards against: not a cupcake opponent for a team looking to get back on track.
“We got down so fast [against Princeton] that we had to put the ball in the air more than we wanted,” Archer said. “We want to be able to keep our commitment to the ground game more so than we did Saturday.”
One weapon the Quakers will be without this Friday is former wide receiver phenom Justin Watson, who graduated last year as Penn’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Watson was selected in the fifth round of the NFL Draft; he has seen time in four games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and recorded his first reception last week.
“They have playmakers — nobody of a [fifth] round caliber — but we can load it up more on the run game knowing they don’t have an NFL threat at receiver,” Archer said.
This will be Cornell’s fifth Friday game ever; the Red’s last win on a Friday came in 1892 against Manhattan Athletics Club, before the advent of television, even before the advent of radio. This Friday’s game will be beamed into homes across America and Cornell’s players are relishing the opportunity.
“It’s awesome,” said senior quarterback Dalton Banks. “There’s nothing better than playing on national TV. It’ll be fun having the country watching and knowing we’re on this stage to show the country what we’ve got.”