After falling to the undefeated Princeton Tigers in a rainy, lopsided affair last weekend, the Red hopes to turn its luck around and claim its first Ivy League win this season against a well known conference rival, the University of Pennsylvania Quakers. Whoever wins this matchup will lay claim to the Trustee’s Cup, an award that has eluded Cornell since 2013 when the team last beat Penn.
Following 101-years of consecutive games played against one another, the Red and the Quakers had to break their streak last year due to the cancellation of sports in wake of the pandemic. Finally head coach David Archer ’05 has another chance to claim his first Trustee’s Cup after losing by one point to Penn in their last meetup at Franklin Field.
Coming off a dominant 45-17 win over Brown, who defeated the Red earlier in the season 49-45, the Quakers have momentum on their side heading into the matchup.
“They’ve got a really good defense. I think the defense is top 20 In a couple categories in the Football Championship Subdivision,” Archer said while evaluating his opponent. “They’ve got two shifty tailbacks with some really good speed and a couple of fast wide receivers that can go over the top. This is going to be their homecoming game so I assume they’re going to play hard, play really well, and I think they’re a really good quality opponent.”
Amongst the impressive running backs is fifth-year student Isaiah Malcome. Malcome is having a career year, averaging 6.4 yards per carry to go along with a team-leading six touchdowns.
“He’s really shifty,” Archer said when assessing Malcome’s abilities. “He’s a little bit shorter, so it’s tough to see. By the time you see him, he could be in your defensive backfield. What’s gonna be really important is that we communicate and line up to their formations.”
After starting the year off strong on the defensive end, the Red has fallen to second worst in the conference, giving up 28.9 points per game including 83 points in the last two contests alone
“I think that our communication and our tackling hasn’t been as strong as it was earlier in the season,” Archer explained. “Being able to cover down so you don’t have busted coverages, big plays or missing gaps, and then being able to tackle so when you hit him you get him down … I think those two things are trending down.”
After giving up 27 points to Princeton in the first half last weekend, the Red locked down and held the Tigers to only one touchdown in the latter half of the game. However, getting off to such a lackluster start in the beginning would ultimately cost Cornell the game and is a new point of emphasis heading into this weekend.
“You set the tone from the start, and it carries throughout the game,” said senior cornerback Michael Irons. “You have two separate halves. First quarter in third quarter, you have to treat it the same. You have to come out fast so we don’t get down and behind like we did last week.”
Beyond the defense, the Red is looking for a spark in the offense which is averaging a league-worst 21.9 points per game. That being said, shifts in quarterbacks as well as efficient rushing production have made the Cornell offensive unit efficient in gaining yardage on paper. The only trouble comes in punching the ball into the end zone.
Many of the players know the offense’s potential. Senior wide receiver Thomas Glover in particular has been one of the Red’s bright spots, already having more receptions than any player in a season since 2013. Even with his accolades though, Glover still knows the importance of turning production into wins and has his eyes set on the game ahead.
“We want to go 1-0 every week,” Glover said. “But I really want to go 1-0 this week. Penn is a good team. They just beat Brown, so I know that they can definitely do their thing, but I know that we have it in the tank to go in there and beat them in their house at homecoming.”
With the prospect of claiming its first Ivy League win of the season, taking home the Trustee’s Cup for the first time in eight years and potentially raining on the Quaker’s homecoming parade, the Red have all the motivation in the world to win on the road this weekend.
Cornell will go on the road to face Penn at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Franklin Field.