The Princeton-Yale series, now in its 131st installment, ranks second on the list of college football's most-played rivalries, behind Lehigh-Lafayette. The Bulldogs have the all-time edge (71-49-10), but the Tigers scored a major victory in their last trip to New Haven, winning 34-31 in 2006 and earning a share of the Ivy League championship.
Head coach Roger Hughes said that when he was hired, he was told about the matchup's importance, but he didn't understand the magnitude until he received a flood of messages from alumni after Princeton's 2000 win in New Haven. That passion, combined with the long history, makes Princeton-Yale "a very special rivalry," he said.
Princeton suffered a disappointing 14-9 loss to Penn Nov. 7, while Yale enters this week's game on a high note after beating Ivy frontrunner Brown, 13-3, in Providence Nov. 8. Princeton's seniors are 1-2 against Yale and are anxious to even the score. The game will be televised nationally on Versus.
Players to watch
Princeton punter Ryan Coyle ’09
On a perfect day, Coyle would spend the entire afternoon on the sideline. But if the Princeton offense stalls against the vaunted Yale defense, Hughes will look to his All-Ivy punter to pin the Bulldogs deep in their own territory. Coyle dropped two punts inside the three-yard line against Penn Nov. 7, and his season average -- 42.3 yards -- ranks second among Ivy punters.
Yale senior linebacker Bobby Abare
Abare, a two-time All-Ivy player, has brought big-play potential to the middle of coach Jack Siedlecki's defense. He has nine career interceptions, the most ever for a Yale linebacker, and he's returned three of those interceptions for touchdowns. He also leads the team in tackles and tackles for a loss this year. Twin brother Larry, the starting safety for the Elis, ranks second on the team in tackles.
Tailback Jordan Culbreath ’10's right leg was sore after sustaining a hard hit in the second quarter against Penn. He did not practice Nov. 11, but the following day, offensive coordinator Dave Rackovan said he expected the junior to play against Yale. Backups Meko McCray ’11 and Matt Zimmerman ’11 also have been hampered by injuries in the last two weeks. ... Quarterbacks Tommy Wornham ’11 and Dan Kopolovich ’10 may play in relief of Brian Anderson ’09 during the season's final two weeks, but Hughes was careful to point out that the intention is to minimize hits to Anderson's sore right shoulder, not to groom the senior's successor. "We are out to win [the Yale and Dartmouth games]," he said. "Next year we'll take care of next year."
Around the Ivies
Three teams are tied atop the Ivy standings at 4-1 -- Harvard, Brown, and Penn -- but one will be knocked down a peg Nov. 15 when the Quakers host the Crimson at Franklin Field. Brown, which lost its first game last week, travels to 0-5 Dartmouth, and Columbia (1-4) hosts Cornell (2-3).
On Yale's schedule, which pits the Elis against their two biggest rivals in the last two weeks of the season:
"I don't know if a lot of people realize that we've played Princeton more than we've played Harvard [130 games vs. Princeton, 124 vs. Harvard]. ... It's a tremendous way to end your year."
-- Jack Siedlecki, Yale head coach
(Photo: "The Princeton-Yale Game Increases in Intensity," a quilt by Phyllis Kluger S'56)