PHILADELPHIA - A matchup with arch rival Princeton may be just what the Quakers need after a Homecoming loss to Brown last week. The 106th meeting of these two rivals will be broadcast nationally on the NBC Sports Network. Kickoff from Princeton Stadium is slated for 3:30 p.m.
The Penn-Princeton Series—106th Meeting
This has been a series dominated by the Quakers in recent years. Prior to Princeton’s win at Franklin Field en route to an Ivy championship last year, Penn had won six in a row. The Quakers have won all but three of these matchups in the last 17 years and are 16-6 against the arch rival Tigers in Al Bagnoli’s tenure. The Quakers have lost just once at Princeton Stadium since it opened in 1997—a double overtime defeat in 2006. In a series that dates back to 1876, Princeton leads, 64-40-1, but the Tigers won the first 28 games. Since that time, the Quakers own a slight edge in the series at 40-36-1.
Dominating a Rival
A head coach is often judged by his record against an arch rival. Just another category where Al Bagnoli has excelled. Over his first 22 seasons, the Quakers are 16-6 (.727) against Princeton which includes a 10-2 mark on the road. Most impressively, Penn has never lost in regulation at Princeton Stadium, which opened in 1997. In the 17 years of the stadium’s existence, Princeton’s only win over the Quakers came in a controversial double overtime finish in 2006 (31-30). Penn also set an NCAA record that day with their third consecutive overtime loss (a record which has since been tied but not broken).
Quick Quakers Notes
Penn has not lost back-to-back games in regulation to Princeton since 1991 and 1992 ... Freshman Justin Watson now has multiple receptions in all seven career games he has played ... Penn has started the same offensive line—Tanner Thexton, Dan Poulos, Trent Rivera, Dan Lysenko and Nick Demes—in each of the last five games ... Penn’s win over Columbia snapped a five-game Ivy losing streak which was the longest under Bagnoli and had been preceeded by a seven-game Ivy winning streak ... Penn’s season-opening trip to Jacksonville was the furthest South the program has ever played a game ... The team’s charter flight that weekend was the first time the Quakers flew since a return trip from Dartmouth in 2010, and the first round-trip flight for the Quakers since the 2004 season opener at San Diego.
Sophomore quarterback Alek Torgersen has a touchdown pass in six of his seven career games, including five straight and all five Ivy League games he has played ... He has passed for eight touchdowns to just two interceptions in his five Ivy League games ... He has thrown for 200+ yards and 1+ touchdowns in five straight games ... He has gone three game, 14 quarters and 146 pass attempts without an interception (last on Oct. 11 in second quarter at Fordham) ... His completion percentage of 59.8 currently ranks fifth-best in a season at Penn ... He is 202 pass yards from becoming just the 10th Penn passer with 2,000 yards in a season and the first since Robert Irvin in 2006 ... His 167 completions this year already rank as ninth-most in a season at Penn (16 from fifth place) and are the most since Irvin’s 174 in 2006 ... His 280 attempts rank as 12th-most in school history to date.
Several Quakers are ranked among the nation’s best, including two among the top 10 in the FCS. Sophomore quarterback Alek Torgersen ranks among the Top 20 in the FCS in three categories. The California native is fourth in the nation with 23.9 completions per game as well as 13th among FCS signal-callers with 256.9 passing yards per game and 18th in total offense with an average of 268.4 yards per game. Meanwhile, senior wideout Spencer Kulcsar is 10th in the FCS with 6.9 receptions per game. In addition, junior placekicker Jimmy Gammill is 19th in field goal percentage (81.8).
Penn has forced the fewest turnovers in the FCS this year and has yet to force a turnover in four Ivy games. This comes after a stretch in which Penn forced a turnover in 12 straight Ivy League games—27 total in that time (18 interceptions, nine fumbles). In four Ivy games this year the Quakers are minus-5 in turnover differential and are minus-8 for the year (14-6).
Senior wideout Conner Scott, who has four or more catches in six straight games, has moved into fourth place all-time at Penn in career receptions (137), fifth place in school history in career receiving yards (1,676), and ninth place in program history in career receiving touchdowns (10). His career-high 167 receiving yards at Yale rank ninth-most in a game in school history, and the most since Dan Castles had 204 against Cornell on Nov. 22, 2003. Scott is 324 yards away from becoming just the fourth player in school history to reach 2,000 career receiving yards. The last to do so was Dan Castles in 2004, who finished with 2,444. Scott is also 13 catches away from becoming the fourth Penn player in the program’s 137-year history with 150 career receptions.
Kulcsar Climbs the Record Book
Senior running back turned wide receiver leads the Quakers and is third in the Ivy League with 48 catches this season. That ranks as 14th all-time at Penn. With two more receptions he will be just the ninth player in school history with 50 catches in a single season. Kulcsar also had 29 catches during his first three seasons as a running back and also ranks 14th on Penn’s all-time career receptions list.
For the Quakers, S.O.S may stand for college football’s strength of schedule, or the universal signal for save our souls. Probably both. Penn has faced the 11th-toughest schedule in the FCS (Princeton, 95th). Penn’s six losses have come to opponents with a combined record of 37-11 (.771).
No program in the history of college football—at any level—has played more games than Penn. Every time they play, the Quakers set an NCAA record. Saturday’s game will be the 1,351st in the Red and Blue’s illustrious history. Penn remains the only program to pass 1,300 games, hitting that mark on Oct. 31, 2009 in an overtime win at Brown. Yale is second all-time with 1,299 games played.
A Penn Win Today Would…
... be the seventh in the last eight meetings with Princeton.
... be the fourth straight at Princeton Stadium.
... snap a four-game Ivy road losing streak.
... improve the Quakers to 9-1 (.900) all-time at Princeton Stadium.
... improve the Quakers to 2-3 in Ivy League play.
A Penn Loss Today Would…
… be just the second all-time at Princeton Stadium.
... mark the first back-to-back losses to Princeton in nearly a decade (2005 & 2006).
... be the 11th in the last 12 games.
... make the Quakers 1-7 for the first time since 1991.
… be less good than a win.
Senior Spencer Kulcsar finished with 14 catches -- one shy of his school record and third-most in a game in school history -- but Penn’s Homecoming game was mostly a defensive battle on a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon at Franklin Field, and Penn came up one score short in a 21-13 loss to Brown. In the end, a late touchdown pass to Justin Watson pulled the Quakers within a possession, but the onside kick was recovered by the Bears to seal the game. Much like the end of the game, the start and most everything in between was played in a cold, driving rain. That led to a scoreless first quarter, but the Bears jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the Quakers in the second stanza. With 36 seconds remaining in the half, Adam Strouss scored on a 1-yard rush to pull the Quakers within one score at the break, 14-7. Almost on cue, the rain slowed for the halftime festivities, but picked back up at the start of the second half and aided another scoreless quarter. Brown eventually scored on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 21-7 edge until Watson’s late touchdown. The extra point failed on a bad snap, but the Quakers still had a chance until the Bears swallowed the onside kick.
One final home game for head coach Al Bagnoli. The Quakers host Harvard in Coach Bagnoli’s last game at Franklin Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.
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