Princeton vs. Lafayette: After Ivy Win, Improving Tigers Face 3-1 Leopards

Mark BatorAnalyst IIOctober 2, 2012

Nov 20, 2010; Princeton, NJ, USA;  Dartmouth Big Green linebacker Bronson Green (36) trips up Princeton Tigers wide receiver Matt Ransom (4) during the first half at Princeton. Dartmouth Big Green defeats Princeton Tigers 31-0. Mandatory Credit: Jim O'Connor-US PRESSWIRE

After a convincing road victory at Ivy League rival Columbia, the Princeton Tigers next travel to Fisher Stadium in Easton, Pa. to face a Lafayette team that was just 19 seconds away from being 4-0. The Leopards fell 31-28 to Robert Morris University when Colonials kicker Greg Langer split the uprights from 33 yards away.

"You can never put your finger on why," explained Lafayette head coach Frank Tavani, "but we came out flat."

Much of the Leopards' success this season has come from their ability to capitalize on turnovers. This year, Lafayette is plus nine in the turnover department, with their defensive backfield responsible for much of that prosperity. So far this season, the Leopards have intercepted 11 passes through their first four games.

By comparison, the Tigers could easily have been 3-0 on the season, as their two losses are by a combined total of four points. After two straight seasons with just one win, the Tigers appear to be poised to show the upturn in their performance for which fans—and head coach Bob Surace—have been looking.

While sophomore quarterback Connor Michelsen has shown flashes of maturity, he is only 36-of-71 for 355 yards, without a touchdown pass. Much of the Tigers' success this season is due to a steady but unspectacular rushing game where running backs Akil Sharp (97 yards, 2 TDs) and DiAndre Atwater (143 yards, one TD) currently lead the team.

By far, the turnabout in the Tigers this season is the defense, which has allowed an average of 14.7 points per game. The strength of the Princeton defense has clearly been the run stoppers, which have held opponents to a mere 102 yards per game. In addition, the Tigers average three sacks per game and are the highest ranked defense in the Ivy League.


Game Time: 6:00pm (Eastern Time), October 6; Fisher Stadium, Easton, Pa.