With its Ivy League title hopes out of reach, Cornell football takes on Dartmouth this weekend hoping to keep the possibility of a winning league record alive. To get a win on Senior Day, the Red will have to down one of the conference’s top teams, led by a nationally-ranked defense.
The Red and Green have met 101 times previously, with Dartmouth holding a 60-40-1 edge. The Green has taken nine in a row from Cornell — Dartmouth shut out the Red, 10-0, last year.
Cornell last time out:
The Red suffered a 20-7 loss to Penn in a nationally-televised Friday night contest. The Cornell offense mustered just one touchdown and allowed the Quakers to climb back into the game despite a halftime lead.
Dartmouth last time out:
High-flying Princeton snuck by Dartmouth in what was likely the de facto Ivy League championship game. The Green kept the Tigers to just two touchdowns in a 14-9 battle of the undefeateds.
Scouting the Green:
The recipe for Dartmouth’s success has been defense, defense and more defense. The Green leads the nation in turnover margin and is in the top 10 statistically in nearly every defensive category. Offensively, Dartmouth controls play with its running game, averaging 242.5 yards per contest on the ground, 14th-most in FCS. Eight players have rushing touchdowns for the Green this season.
Head coach David Archer ’05 on the Dartmouth defense: “These guys are different than some of the other [nationally-ranked defenses] because they blitz a lot less. They’re more formational, you can kind of know what you can expect a little bit more. That doesn’t make their players any less good, they’re certainly very good, but it’s a different style … destroying blocks, being very sure tacklers, keeping everything in front.”
Cornell beats Dartmouth if:
… it can run the ball and stop the run, two daunting tasks against a team that thrives both defensively and with the rushing attack. Junior running back Harold Coles and other Cornell ball carriers haven’t gotten much done offensively in recent games for Cornell, in part because deficits have forced Cornell to shift to an aerial attack. A quick start powered by the running game can keep the Red in the game against a stellar defense. Defensively, the Red needs to return to early-season form, when it slowed star Yale running back Zane Dudek in a close loss and limited Harvard’s rushing attack in its best win of the year.
What they’re saying in Ithaca:
Archer on reigniting the offense: “We certainly need a spark and that might have to be more aggressive even in our own minus territory on fourth down or taking more shots downfield, maybe a trick play here and there.”
Coles on the matchup with Dartmouth: “A lot of people just know that there’s a lot of things to still play for, whether it’s a winning record in the Ivy League or just your seniors for the last time. … I think everybody’s trying to prove something to ourselves and everyone else in the league.”
What they’re saying in Hanover:
Dartmouth head coach Buddy Teevens after last week’s loss to Princeton and the Ivy title race: “We’re relying on other people. In this league, anything can happen. We were in a similar situation a few years ago, and someone lost when we needed them to.”
Archer said on Tuesday that senior quarterback Dalton Banks and junior quarterback Mike Catanese will be game-time decisions for Saturday’s contest. Banks strained the pectoral muscle on his throwing-arm side during a practice this week while Catanese has been battling back from a long-term ankle injury since the Harvard game in week four.
In 1940, Cornell and Dartmouth competed in what became known as the “Fifth Down Game.” The Red scored a touchdown on the game’s final play to win 7-3. But upon reviewing game film, Cornell realized the touchdown had been scored on an inadvertently awarded fifth down and forfeited the game to Dartmouth.
Fun fact about the Green:
Dartmouth is the only Ivy League team Archer has never beaten as head coach.