Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

Cornell dominated the Route 13 Rivalry at first, but Colgate has surged in recent years and taken the last three matchups.

September 16, 2020

Examining the Cornell-Colgate Football Rivalry

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Dubbed the “Route 13 Rivalry,” Cornell and Colgate’s football rivalry spans over a century and has resulted in 101 meetings between the two teams. While Cornell was the initial powerhouse in the matchup, Colgate has heated up in recent decades, and the all-time series record stands at an even 49-49-3.

The rivalry stems from the fact that both schools are located within 100 miles of each other, and they are also a part of rival conferences in the Ivy League and Patriot League. Both squads competed against each other for the first time in 1896, and for the first 14 iterations of the matchup, the Red went 13-0-1 as it outscored the Raiders by a margin of 195-16.

While Colgate successfully rattled off some victories over the next several decades, Cornell still displayed a clear edge. It wasn’t until 1952 that the Raiders gained some footing in the series. Over the next 13 years, Colgate notched nine wins as the Red began to struggle under head coaches George K. James and Tom Harp.

Once legendary running back Ed Marinaro joined the team, the Red restored its winning ways. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Cornell won eight out of nine contests. During the 1971 season, the Red knocked off the Raiders, 38-20, in the season opener and wound up ending the year with an 8-1 record and an Ivy League title in hand.

Ever since 1975, though, Cornell has struggled immensely in the Route 13 Rivalry. The Red has only earned eight wins over the course of 40 matchups. The struggles coincide with Cornell’s effort to regain relevance as a football program.

While the Red has fared poorly against Colgate, it has notched a few marquee triumphs over the Raiders. In Cornell’s most recent win — which came in 2016 — it accomplished an improbable comeback victory. After an abysmal first half, the Red entered the locker room staring at a 31-12 deficit.

At the intermission, then-senior offensive lineman Jake Waltman ignited the team with a speech during the halftime intermission, which ultimately inspired the improbable comeback.

“[At halftime] Jake Waltman brought us up and said, ‘This is the moment you’re going to be looking at 10 or 15 years down the road and say we had the biggest comeback we’ve ever had and we’re going to prove it today,’” said then-senior wide receiver Collin Shaw postgame. “Everyone rallied around that before the half and it gave us so much momentum going into the second half.”

With that momentum, Cornell chipped away at the Raiders’ lead as the offense moved out of the mud. The Red outscored Colgate, 27-7, in the final 30 minutes and bookended the victory with a 19-yard touchdown pass from then-sophomore quarterback Dalton Banks to Shaw.

“We said, ‘Hey, no matter what happens, we’re going to win the game,’” said head coach David Archer ’05 after the game. “We stuck to it and they just kept making plays and it was just a day I’ll never forget.”

The Raiders have won the last three matchups, which included a 21-20 win over the Red in the 2019 season. In that Oct. 19 clash, Cornell fell to a Colgate team that had dropped its first seven games of the season. After that loss, though, the Red churned three wins against Ivy competition during the back half of the year to secure a tie for fourth place in the conference.

Because of Cornell’s early dominance in the series, Colgate’s recent efforts have only rendered the rivalry even over 101 meetings. It remains to be seen if the Red can buck this latest trend and reassert control in the Route 13 Rivalry.