There might be no better opportunity for Cornell football to move past last week’s humiliating loss at the hands of Princeton than this Friday night. For only the sixth time in program history, the Red will be facing off under the night lights, harboring back many memories to each team member’s high school days.
What’s more, it will be a battle against rival Penn for the Trustees’ Cup in front of a national television audience. All constitutes a recipe for a pick-me-up heading into the home stretch of the 2018 campaign.
How to watch or listen:
This will be Cornell’s only nationally televised game of the season, as Marc Kestecher and former NFL player and Princeton alum Ross Tucker will have the call on ESPNU and WatchESPN (cable subscription needed). On the radio with Barry Leonard and Buck Briggs ’76 at 96.3 FM The Buzzer. Online with live updates at www.cornellsun.com and on Twitter @DailySunSports.
Friday will be the 125th meeting between Cornell and Penn — the fifth-most played in college football — and the Quakers own a 73-46-5 record in the series. The Trustees’ cup has remained down south as of late, as Penn has reigned victorious in the past four meetings.
Cornell last time out:
The Red was handed its worst loss in 128 years when it was demolished by Princeton, 66-0, on the road. The Tigers took a 45-0 lead into halftime and never looked back in the bloodbath. Cornell struggled in all facets, and senior quarterback Dalton Banks was picked off four times on the day, including three times in the Red’s first four offensive drives.
Penn last time out:
The Quakers rebounded with a win over Brown, 13-7, on the road a week after falling to Yale at home. Penn held the last-place Bears to under 200 yards of offense and torched the Brown defense for over 300 yards on the ground despite putting up just 13 points. Running back Karekin Brooks had a field day with 246 yards on the ground while Penn attempted just 10 passes.
Scouting the Quakers:
Breathe easy, Cornell fans. Justin Watson has graduated. So too has Tre Solomon. The wide receiver and running back, respectively, tormented the Red’s defense during their tenure with the Quakers. This is especially true for Watson, who put up at least 75 yards in each of his four contests against Cornell and famously caught for 192 with a touchdown to sink Cornell last year. Solomon compiled 209 yards with two touchdowns two years ago. But Penn still boasts more than formidable athletes up and down the roster.
“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,” Cornell head coach David Archer ’05 said.
The rushing game is No. 4 in the Ancient Eight, but Brooks sits at second in the league with 112.9 yards per game. The Penn offense operates through the ground game, as the Quakers have attempted 300 rushes (second most in the league) as opposed to just 171 passes (second least in the league). Ryan Glover has taken the majority of snaps under center, though Nick Robinson has seen his fair share as the season has progressed. Their favorite target has been Steve Farrell, who has more than 200 yards than the next Penn receiver.
The Penn defense also stands more than formidable as the No. 3 defense in the Ivy League with just 18.7 points allowed per game. The secondary is No. 2 in the league allowing 183.0 yards per game in the air. As a whole, the Penn defense is No. 17 in the FCS.
Cornell beats Penn if:
… it can forget the past and set the tone early at home. The Red has made clear that the Princeton loss is mentally in the rearview. Now all that is left is to leave the play there, too. The entire team had forgettable performances this past Saturday, so a shorter week could provide a key timeframe to move on. Cornell has had trouble against Penn in the past several seasons, but perhaps facing off against the Quakers in a time other than the season finale will benefit the Red.
What they’re saying in Ithaca:
Archer on the loss to Princeton: “Sometimes in life you have unexpected horrific adversity, whether it’s in your academics or career or personal life. It’s how you respond that matters.”
Archer on approaching the rest of the season with little hope of an Ivy title: “It’s not over yet. 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.”
Senior quarterback Dalton Banks on playing on national television Friday night: “It’s awesome. 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.”
What they’re saying in Philadelphia:
Penn coach Ray Priore on his quarterback situation (Daily Penn): “We’ll probably see a very similar thing to what we’ve done before. Both have worked hard in various situations early in the season, and Nick was injured early, so it took a little bit of time. It’s a great tandem, and you go with the guy who’s doing well. So if they’re both doing well, they’re both playing.”
Senior offensive lineman Tommy Dennis on Penn’s quarterbacks: “Honestly, I don’t really care who’s back there, because I’m confident in them. Whoever is back there is gonna get the job done, so I know as long as the O-line gets the job done, they’re gonna make the right plays.”
Priore on the Red’s forecasted gameplan: “Cornell has a very talented tailback, and we gotta do the same thing [as last week]. When you make teams one-dimensional, you take away the things they can do.”
Cornell’s last win on a Friday came 126 years ago with a 16-0 victory over Manhattan Athletics Club on Nov. 18, 1892.
Fun fact about the Quakers:
It is a tradition at Penn football games to throw toast onto the track that surrounds Franklin Field when the line “Here’s a toast to dear old Penn” comes up in the fight song. It’s an homage to the days of prohibition, when the students took the word toast literally.