The undefeated football team (6–0, 3–0 Ivy) will face Cornell (3–3, 2–1) in its return to Powers Field at Princeton Stadium tomorrow afternoon. The Tigers are coming off a 29–21 win over Harvard (3–3, 1–2 Ivy) in which senior quarterback John Lovett threw for 207 yards and senior running back Charlie Volker recorded two rushing touchdowns. The victory was Princeton’s first real test in a season that includes five blowout wins.
In an interview for the “Original Eleven” podcast, sophomore cornerback Delan Stallworth said that playing in a game where “you really have to fight” will benefit the Tigers as the season continues.
“Coming out on top, I think that gives you a little bit of confidence, just knowing that you’re not going to break down in the end of games,” he said of the team’s mindset following the Harvard win. The team knows they’ve got “to punch back to be in a position to win.”
Princeton has thrown plenty of punches this season, earning the 17th spot in the FCS Coaches’ Poll. The team leads the FCS in both total offense (556.8 yards per game) and scoring offense (48.2 points per game). But before the Tigers can keep moving up the board, they will square off against another serious challenger in the Big Red.
Cornell sits behind Princeton and Dartmouth, the only other undefeated team in the Ivy League, with a 2–1 league record. The Big Red’s 3–3 overall record is deceptive — two of its three losses came against Colgate and Delaware, both ranked teams, and the third came in a close game against Yale.
Last year, Cornell proved to be the party crashers for a Princeton squad that had routed Harvard and was sitting pretty at 5–1, looking for a share of the Ivy League title. The game ended with a nail-biting 29–28 score for the Big Red, and Princeton would not win another game all season.
This year’s Tigers will no doubt have this on their mind as they take the field Saturday.
Getting to 7–0 would likely require another stellar performance from Lovett and Volker. The running back only needs 132 more yards to reach the 2,000-yard career rushing mark. Volker’s method of tuning everything out when the ball in is his hands has been instrumental.
“The only thing I think about is, here is the line, there are a bunch of other guys on the other side trying to stop me from getting to the line, and with my teammates, we need to make sure we get across it. That’s the only thing that gets in my mind. I’m so certain of my job at that point,” Volker says of gaining yards and scoring touchdowns.
It’s not just the offense that’s worth watching, though. Princeton’s defense ranks fourth in the FCS in scoring defense, allowing just 10.7 points per game. The unit is anchored by a pair of senior captains, linebackers Mark Fossati and Tom Johnson, who have each recorded 10-tackle games this season.
Both Princeton and Cornell control their own destiny in the path to the Ivy League Championship. A Tiger win would set up a probable showdown between two undefeated teams next week against Dartmouth, who will host Harvard in its homecoming game this weekend. A loss by either team on Saturday would not prevent either from winning a share of the title. Cornell may also claim a share of the Ivy League trophy — the Big Red has only one league loss and could win its remaining games against Princeton and Dartmouth.
The game will be streamed live on ESPN+. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.