While Colgate University has won eight of the last 10 meetings between the Raiders and the Tigers (2-1 overall, 1-0 Ivy League), the two times the Tigers did pull out the victory they went on to win Ivy League titles. Princeton’s last win over Colgate came in 2006 in a game that was eventually decided 27-26 in overtime.
This game will be the Tigers’ last chance to prepare for the majority of their Ivy League season, being the last non-league game they will play this year. After starting the season with a 39-29 loss to University of San Diego, the Tigers rebounded with a 56-17 win over Davidson College in their home opener and a 38-6 win over Columbia in their Ivy League opener. However, Colgate will be the only Patriot League team the Tigers will face this year and arguably the stiffest competition they will face from a non-league opponent.
Princeton has gone 4-7 against Patriot League teams such as Colgate since head coach Bob Surace ’90 took over the program in 2010, with two of those four wins coming last season against Georgetown and Lafayette. Colgate has already proven themselves against an Ivy League opponent this season, defeating Cornell 27-12 three weeks ago. In order to defeat Colgate the Tigers will need to play like the team that showed up against Davidson and Columbia, not the team that played San Diego.
“We just want to take it one game at a time, so our main thing this week is just to keep practicing harder than we did the week before and that will translate to a better game than the week before,” junior running back DiAndre Atwater said. “I think that shows the biggest between the way we practiced for San Diego and played San Diego and the way we practiced for Davidson and the way we played Davidson, and then beyond that just practicing harder and coaches pushing us harder and pushing ourselves harder. I think that just translates to better play on the field the next game.”
Atwater will likely be featured heavily in Saturday’s matchup, as both the Raiders and the Tigers boast strong run games. Colgate is currently ranked 16th in the nation, averaging 227.0 yards per game, while Princeton ranks 32nd with an average of 200.3 yards per game. Though the Tigers’ average rushing yards are overall lower, over the past two games their run game has averaged 250.5 yards.
“[I just need to] run hard, trust my linemen,” Atwater said. “I know that I’m nothing without them, if they’re not our there making blocks and doing their thing, so just trust the plays that are called, trust my linemen and I’ll be fine.”
This mentality and the results it, in addition to his hard work, has delivered earned Atwater a spot on the Ivy League Honor Roll after he rushed for a season-best 107 yards and touchdown against Columbia. He leads the Tigers with averages of 8.4 yards per carry and 76.0 yards per game this season. This is a vast improvement from his averages last season of 4.7 yards per carry and 49.1 yards per game.
“Our coaches say you can never watch too much film, and I think this year they’re definitely trying to impose that idea on us,” Atwater added. “I’m sure everyone will say that they don’t like getting up in the early mornings, but it’s definitely necessary. The results that we’ve had this past year and these past two wins, critiquing the mistakes we make and correcting those on the field through the meetings, its definitely necessary.”