FCS Game of the Week: Princeton vs. Dartmouth
By CRAIG HALEY
Week 11 Matchup: No. 10 Princeton (7-0, 4-0 Ivy League) vs. No. 13 Dartmouth (7-0, 4-0)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium in New York
Series: Dartmouth leads 49-45-4 (last meeting: Princeton won 14-9 at home on Nov. 3, 2018)
Coaches: Princeton: Bob Surace (55-42, 10th season; 73-45 overall); Dartmouth: Buddy Teevens (103-92-2, 20th season; 137-169-2 overall)
The Skinny: The 99th matchup of the series was scheduled for Yankee Stadium to celebrate college football's 150th anniversary (Princeton and Rutgers played in the first game on Nov. 6, 1869), but for the second consecutive season, Princeton and Dartmouth enter 7-0 as two of the three unbeatens in college football (North Dakota State was the other team last year as well). Princeton has won a program-record 17 straight games a since-ending loss to the Big Green in 2017 and Dartmouth's only loss in its last 20 games was to the Tigers last season.
Princeton has been one of the more proficient teams in the FCS, committing only four turnovers and 25 penalties and converting 47 percent of third downs. The offense has done well to overcome key graduation losses. QB Kevin Davidson (70.3 completion percentage, 2,040 yards, 19 TDs, 3 INTs) looks to a receivers unit led by Jacob Birmelin (44 receptions, 602 yards, 3 TDs), and RBs Collin Eaddy (494 yards, 9 TDs) and Ryan Quigley (349, 5) provide two strong options. The defense has been solid against the run, allowing just 96.1 yards per game on 3.1 yards per carry. LB Jeremiah Tyler (15 tackles for loss) and DL Samuel Wright and Joey DeMarco have five sacks each. The Tigers limited Dartmouth to 213 yards in last year's game.
Dartmouth remained unbeaten last Saturday on Derek Kyler's 43-yard Hail Mary connection to Masaki Aerts to end a 9-6 win over Harvard. Starting QB Jared Gerbino was knocked out of that game with a leg injury, but he's shared playing time with Kyler for two seasons. They have combined to average 256.3 yards of total offense and account for 17 total TDs this season. WR/RS Drew Estrada has been the big-play specialist, scoring 8 TDs and averaging 145.6 all-purpose yards per game. The Big Green are surrendering an FCS-low 10.1 points per game. LBs Jack Traynor and Nigel Alexander are tied for the team lead with 49 tackles each and the return of All-America CB Isiah Swann (school-record 14 career INTs) after he missed three games is vital considering Princeton's depth at wide receiver.
Both teams have regularly grabbed wins in the first half. Dartmouth's 154-point advantage (177 points scored, 23 allowed) is the best margin in the FCS and Princeton is seventh at plus-106 (166, 60).
Prediction: Dartmouth was the stronger team through October, but the injury to Gerbino and escape against Harvard slowed the roll a bit. Princeton has forced three takeaways in each of its last three games while the Big Green have committed eight turnovers in their last three games. Princeton, 17-14.
Updated November 7, 2019