This ... or nothing: Dartmouth faces must-win scenario vs. perfect Princeton

  • Dartmouth players run onto the field before a game against Columbia at Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H., on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news / report for america — Alex Driehaus

  • Dartmouth College Football Head Coach Buddy Teevens holds practice on Memorial Field in Hanover, N.H., on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News — James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/4/2021 9:37:13 PM
Modified: 11/4/2021 9:37:21 PM

HANOVER — Dartmouth College football coach Buddy Teevens says every game in the Ivy League is a championship opportunity.

The Big Green’s upcoming showdown with No. 16 Princeton on Friday night at Memorial Field is a glaring example of that.

With Dartmouth at 3-1 in the Ivies (6-1 overall) and Princeton 4-0 in league play (7-0 overall), this game is Dartmouth’s season. If the Big Green win, they’ll claim at least a share of the league title with victories over Cornell and Brown — currently the bottom two in the Ancient Eight. If the Tigers win, Dartmouth would need a miracle to hang a new banner in Hanover.

“One loss (in the) league, it’s tough. Two, probably kiss (the championship) goodbye. So they know what’s on the line; certainly Princeton knows what’s on the line,” Teevens said. “So two quality teams ready to play in a big game under the lights.”

When the teams squared off in 2019, Dartmouth won, 27-10, in a battle of two ranked teams at Yankee Stadium. This will be the third consecutive season that Princeton enters this matchup undefeated.

This will be the 100th meeting between the programs as well. The Big Green lead the all-time series with a 50-45-4 record, and they’ve won eight of the last 10 matchups with the Tigers.

Dartmouth is coming off a crucial win at Harvard, thanks to a field goal by senior Connor Davis with less than a minute to go. The Big Green’s offense rebounded from a tough night in their only loss of the season, against Columbia two weeks ago.

Fifth-year quarterback Derek Kyler recorded his second-most passing yards of the season on his third-most efficient line of the season in beating the Crimson, 20-17. And the Big Green offense was much more balanced against Harvard than it was against Columbia.

Princeton has won 12 straight road games, the longest streak in the Football Championship Subdivision. The Tigers sit alone atop the Ivy League going into this game, but they haven’t coasted there. They needed five overtimes to defeat Harvard in controversial fashion two weeks ago, in a game that significantly shaped the rest of the Ivy League season.

The Tigers have an extra day of rest over the Big Green for this game. Princeton played on Friday night last week as well, in a 34-16 win over Cornell. Teevens isn’t worried about that potential advantage.

“We try not to think about it,” Teevens said. “As I tell our guys, A and I — adjust and improvise. We have a shortened week. But at this time in the season, we’ve practiced enough. We know what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

Princeton scores nearly 37 points per game, which is 11th-best in the FCS.

Teevens, as usual, is keyed in on the offensive and defensive lines. Defensively, stopping Tigers quarterback Cole Smith will be the top priority. He’s thrown for over 2,000 yards, and he can run as well. He’s gained 218 yards on running plays this season, though his net yardage sits at 74 because of sacks.

Teevens knows his defense will have to play well to stop him.

“Their quarterback is nimble afoot, he makes plays, he throws the ball extremely well (and) they’ve got a real corps of wide receivers,” Teevens said.

“The key is to unsettle a guy like that. When you get a guy out of his comfort zone, it disrupts timing and everything else.”

On offense, Teevens is looking for a strong performance from his offensive line to anchor the attack. He also wants to continue sticking with the run game, to allow for a balanced offense throughout the game.

“Just intermix (the run game). That does help you with play action, which we saw (against Harvard) as well,” Teevens said. “And it all bleeds into a broader array of plays that you can select.”

Seth Tow can be reached at

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