ESPN Ivy League football -- A history of the Princeton/Yale rivalry, and a preview of the upcoming Yale Bowl

The year was 1873. Napoleon died. Tolstoy began Anna Karenina. Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House. And, for the first time, Princeton played Yale in football. That historic rivalry, now one of the oldest among American colleges, will continue Nov. 10, when Princeton’s Tigers meet the Elis for the 113th time.

”The fact that it’s Princeton gets us up for the game,” says Yale’s team captain, senior inside linebacker Chris Gaughan. (Princeton won the 1873 game.) Last season, both teams were undefeated in the Ivy League when the Elis beat the Tigers 14-7 in front of 40,000 fans in New Jersey, raising Yale’s edge in the series to 62-40. ”It was the biggest win I’d ever been involved in,” Gaughan says, ”and I’m sure they have some returning starters who’ll remember that game well.”

The Tigers have nine returning starters, to be exact, and at least one of them — senior captain and strong safety Mike Hirou — agrees: ”It’s definitely one of our bigger psychs, especially after last year.” And following a decade of dominance by Penn, the Ivy League’s eight teams (the others: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, and Harvard) are more equally matched this year. ”Any team can beat any other team on any Saturday,” Gaughan says.

ESPN sportscaster Wayne Larrivee will call the play-by-play live from the Yale Bowl, with Princeton’s all-time leading receiver, Kevin Guthrie, analyzing.

While Yale (as of this writing, 3-1 in the league, 4-3 overall) is still in the running for this year’s Ivy title, the Tigers (1-3, 2-5) could use a little redemption after a recent loss to lowly Columbia (it was only the Lions’ eighth victory in 11 years). And if Princeton’s orange and black emerge victorious, maybe Yale’s blue and white will stop calling them pumpkinheads — at least until next year.