One of the most important attributes for any sports team is the ability to bounce back after a tough loss. This Saturday, Princeton football (7–1, 4–1 Ivy) will have to hope its skill in that area hasn’t gotten too rusty.
After a loss last weekend to Dartmouth at Yankee Stadium snapped the Tigers’ 17-game win streak, they will look to rebound against Yale (7–1, 4–1) at home on Senior Day. Things won’t get much easier this week for Princeton against the Bulldogs, who have won four straight and only lost once, also to Dartmouth, this year.
Last year’s matchup between the two teams lit up the scoreboard at the Yale Bowl, with Princeton ultimately prevailing 59–43. There’s good reason to believe this year’s game may turn out similarly.
Yale has been one of the most offensively dominant teams in the country during its recent winning streak, averaging 44.5 points per game over the past four games. The Bulldogs have no shortage of offensive assets. Quarterback Kurt Rawlings, a four-time Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week award winner this year, has thrown for 280.5 yards a game and 17 touchdowns, and receiver JP Shohfi has recorded more than 160 receiving yards in three straight games. Running back Zane Dudek, a former Ivy League Rookie of the Year, has rushed for 5.9 yards per carry this season.
Yale’s defense, on the other hand, has been less consistent; the Bulldogs have allowed an average of 25 points per game on the season and 31 points over their past five games. That will present an opportunity for a Princeton offense looking to get back on track after last weekend’s loss. With three turnovers, 210 total yards, and just 10 points, the Dartmouth game was Princeton’s worst offensive performance of the year, but the Tigers still rank 19th in the FCS for scoring offense with 35 points per game.
After last week’s loss, Princeton no longer controls its own destiny in the Ivy League championship race. Dartmouth merely needs to beat Ivy League bottom feeders Cornell and Brown in its final two games to secure an undefeated season and guarantee a sole Ivy League title.
The Tigers, however, still have much to play for. A loss against Yale would almost surely eliminate Princeton from Ivy title contention, while a win and Dartmouth loss would put Princeton back in a tie for first. Having beaten Harvard earlier this season, Princeton can also earn its second consecutive bonfire by beating Yale on Saturday.
The game will begin at 1 p.m. at Princeton Stadium and will be broadcast on ESPN+ and WPRB 103.3 FM.