Looking to keep the momentum of a four-game winning streak going, the Princeton Tigers travel to Cornell to face yet another conference rival this week. Princeton is 3-0 in Ivy League play this year.
Cornell's offense has been good this season (25.8 points per game), but unfortunately, they surrender as many points as they score (25.7 points per game). Not coincidentally, they are 3-3 on the year.
Second only to Harvard in passing offense, the Big Red are led by quarterback Jeff Mathews (146-of-243 for 1,771 yards and nine touchdowns), who was named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List in July 2012. He was also last season's Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, as well as being honored as first-team All-Ivy in 2011.
Mathews missed the game on Oct. 13 against Monmouth due to a neck injury, but backup QB Chris Amrhein led the Big Red to a victory on the strength of a 523-yard passing performance of his own. Mathews returned last week and threw three interceptions in the 21-14 loss to Brown.
Mathews has a number of targets at his disposal to give the Princeton secondary cause for concern. The most prolific of his receivers is Luke Tasker, whose 52 receptions and five TDs may be reason enough for the Tigers to double-team the senior wide receiver this weekend.
But double-teaming Tasker is likely to leave Mathews no alternative but to throw to Kurt Ondash (41 receptions), Grant Gellatly (36 receptions) or Luke Hagy (26 receptions). Tasker is a double-threat for the Big Red, as he is the team's primary punt returner as well.
Hagy is the team's leading rusher with 200 yards and three touchdowns on the season, but when an offense has a quarterback like Mathews, the running game is something of an afterthought. The next leading rusher is Silas Nacita who has a mere 82 yards for the entire season. Of the Big Red's 2,619 yards of total offense this season, only 304 of them came via the ground.
But Cornell's quarterback isn't the only concern for Princeton this Saturday. In last week's victory over Harvard, Quinn Epperly had to replace the injured Connor Michelsen on the winning drive. Michelsen did not return, leaving Epperly to supply the last-second heroics.
“He was telling us he was ready to come back in just before the final play,” revealed Princeton head coach Bob Surace (as reported by Jay Greenberg on PrincetonTigersFootball.com). Michelsen is expected back against Cornell.
Other injuries for the Tigers include right tackle Kevin Mill (knee) and running back DiAndre Atwater (leg injury), who are expected to miss the game against Cornell. Injured RB Akil Sharp should return to play against the Big Red.
Game Time: Saturday, Oct. 27, 12:30pm, Schoellkopf Field, Ithaca, N.Y.