Jason Wu/Sun Senior Editor

Schoellkopf will likely be at capacity for football's Homecoming game following the team's early success.

September 27, 2023

PREVIEW: Football to Host Colgate in Homecoming Home Opener

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After playing on the road for the first two weeks, football is getting set for its home opener this Saturday, Sept. 30, when it will host Colgate. The game will also be Homecoming for Cornell, and with the team’s early success this season, it will likely be a full house at Schoellkopf.

The Red (2-0, 1-0 Ivy) is coming off one of its biggest wins in recent memory. After trailing 14-3 at halftime on the road against defending Ivy League champion Yale, Cornell rallied, outscoring the Bulldogs 20-7 in the second half to take the win, 23-21.

“I thought it was a great win –– really proud of the guys, they overcame adversity from the moment we left campus,” said head coach David Archer ’05, referring to one of the team’s buses breaking down during their trip. “Yale’s a great team –– it was just a great team win.”

The offense stuck to its roots, passing for 197 yards and rushing for 174. The Red dominated time of possession, holding the ball for more than 38 minutes. Cornell currently leads all of college football (FBS and FCS) in average time of possession.

The defense, led by senior linebacker and Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week Connor Henderson, harassed Yale quarterback Nolan Grooms all day, limiting him to 129 yards passing and forcing an interception. Senior kicker/punter Jackson Kennedy repeated as Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week.

“Henderson is a complete linebacker –– he can rush the passer, he can cover in space, he can make tackles in the box,” Archer said. “Jackson [Kennedy] is a special talent –– he does all three [field goals, kickoffs and punting].”

Saturday’s game will be Cornell’s annual Homecoming, with alumni returning to campus and large crowds expected for the game. For Archer, who was a player at Cornell before becoming a coach, Homecoming is always a special occasion.

“I just really appreciate how the University comes behind it,” Archer said. “And so, with the respect I have for that, the best way we can honor that is to do our best on the field.”

The Raiders (0-4, 0-1 Patriot) lost to No. 6 Holy Cross in its last game. Cornell and Colgate will be meeting for the 104th time on Saturday, with the Red narrowly leading the series, 51-49-3.

“Their defense is aggressive,” Archer said. “They’re going to play a four down man coverage. They’re going to play a three down man coverage. They’re going to play four down and blitz and play hot coverage behind it. They do a lot of stuff we haven’t seen yet.”

When the two teams met last year, it was a high-scoring affair. The Red scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, including a game-winning field goal with 1:55 remaining, to take the game, 34-31.

The Raiders has gotten off to a slow start, losing all four of its games by multiple possessions. Nevertheless, with the team hungry for a win, Cornell will need to remain disciplined to improve to 3-0.

“We have a ton of respect for them,” Archer said. “I think they’re a class act in terms of coaches and leadership.”

Prediction: Cornell 24 Colgate 14

The Red has established itself as a team that can build long sustaining drives and control time of possession. On Saturday, Cornell will use that to its advantage, limiting Colgate’s chances to score and sending the Homecoming crowd away happy with a win.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. from Schoellkopf. The game will also be broadcast on ESPN+.