Thursday, November 27, 2014

Rivalry Week(s): Cornell-Penn

Thanksgiving and football go together like overeating and indigestion, but you might be surprised to know the Ivy League used to make an annual contribution to the Turkey Day gridiron tradition. Cornell and Penn faced off every Thanksgiving in Philadelphia until 1964, when it was moved to the last Saturday of the season; they played on Thanksgiving again in '65 before making the Saturday game permanent. They've played on Thanksgiving only once since (1989).

Turkey Day and Cornell-Penn football used to be synonymous.

Here's a look at some of their showdowns. Penn leads 70-46-5 through 2014:

1956: Cornell Saves Face
Coming in with an 0-8 mark, Cornell prevailed 20-7 thanks to Art Boland's 91-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Bo Roberson and Bob McAniff also scored touchdowns in the Big Red's win.

* Penn was still sporting the "classic" striped shirts at this point, while Cornell's tops had the trademark thin red stripes on each sleeve. As for the Big Red helmets ... well, they kinda remind me of Indiana's.

Cornell (in white) and Penn duke it out in 1956 at Franklin Field.
Check out the scoreboard in the background of the first photo
and the funky facemask on No. 78 on the second pic.
These are both from the Cornell Daily Sun.

1965: End of an Era
Behind the running of Bill Wilson (126 yards, enough for the Ivy rushing title) and Pete Larson (111 yards, three TDs), Cornell defeated Penn 38-14 on Thanksgiving after a one-year hiatus. It was the last Thanksgiving game until '89.

* Penn wore new jerseys that year, as red replaced blue as the primary color, and the striped shirts were gone until 1971. The crimson helmets with the navy "P" were also new, and used through '70. Cornell's unis were awfully generic, even for that era; it might be a one-year style.

1986: Penn Runs the Table
Jim Crocicchia threw two TD passes and Rich Comizio ran for a TD as Penn wrapped up its fifth straight Ivy title and first undefeated, untied season since 1904.
And hey, you can watch highlights here:

* I believe the stripeless Penn jerseys were only a one-year style, and the Quakers returned to the old jerseys in ’87. Cornell still had the ginormous “CORNELL” across the jersey front, a leftover trait from the Bob Blackman years. Names on the back were introduced this year and used until the late ‘90s.

1989: Back to Turkey Day
To accommodate an ESPN broadcast, Penn and Cornell played on Thanksgiving morning as a one-shot deal. Cornell prevailed, 20-6.

* This was the last year Cornell showed its school pride on the jersey fronts. Penn’s sleeves underwent a stripe reduction that year.
Up next: It’s all about The Game. 
Happy Thanksgiving!

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