On a Friday night in New York City last year, Princeton football’s 45–10 win over Columbia inaugurated the team’s Ivy League play and foreshadowed the tremendous season to come. Though the 2018 team had dominated in two non-conference games to open the season, it was difficult to know how well its members would hold up until they had been tested in conference play. A commanding win over a solid Ivy League opponent sent a message to the rest of the league — Princeton was the team to beat.
The 2019 Princeton football team will look to send a similar message against Columbia in its 2019 Ivy League opener at home this Saturday. The Tigers were picked to finish third in the 2019 Ivy League Football Preseason Media Poll, after losing several key contributors to graduation, but they have looked dominant in non-conference wins over Butler and Bucknell. If Princeton can beat Columbia convincingly, all signs will point to Princeton having built another powerhouse.
Columbia will come into Princeton with a veteran team, as it has returned 15 starters from its 2018 squad. Columbia’s 2018 team finished 6–4, despite dealing with significant injury problems and starting four different players at quarterback throughout the season. The Lions opened their 2019 campaign with a win over St. Francis before falling 24–10 to Georgetown in their home opener.
Offensively, Columbia has yet to find go-to playmakers. At quarterback, the Lions have split snaps between junior Josh Bean and sophomore Ty Lenhart. Bean has been relatively ineffective, completing 23 of 48 passes for no touchdowns and three interceptions in Columbia’s first two games, while Lenhart attempted just 16 passes total in both games. At running back, sophomore Ryan Young gained 98 yards to lead Columbia in his first game but managed just nine in his second, and the Lions have yet to see a receiver break 100 yards.
On defense, Columbia finished fifth in the Ivy League in points allowed per game in 2018 and has held opponents to a respectable 19 points per game to open 2019. That unit will have its hands full Saturday with a Princeton offense, which scored 49 and 56 points in its first two games.
Senior quarterback Kevin Davidson has spearheaded an unstoppable passing attack for Princeton. He’s completed 47 of 58 passes for 722 yards and nine touchdowns in two games, including an Ivy-League-record seven touchdown passes against Bucknell in Princeton’s home opener. Senior receiver and first-year starter Andrew Griffin emerged last week as a major threat in the passing game, pulling in 200 yards and four touchdowns, and sophomore receiver Andrei Iosivas has accumulated four touchdowns in two games. Junior running back Colin Eaddy and sophomore running back Ryan Quigley have led Princeton on the ground, averaging 6.8 and 7.6 yards per carry, respectively. Eaddy had his breakout game last year against Columbia, rushing six times for 102 yards and a touchdown.
The game will start at 1 p.m. at Princeton Stadium, with live streaming on ESPN+.