ESPN returns to Franklin Field on Friday as Penn takes on Yale
The Quakers play Yale in an Ivy League game on ESPNU.
There is a lot of college football on television, but if you are a Football Championship Subdivision program that is not typically featured in the weekly glut, playing in front of a national TV audience is a big deal.
Even if it is not on the primary platform, playing on one of the handfuls of channels that start with ESPN is something an Ivy League team is going to get a little more excited about.
"Absolutely," said Penn coach Ray Priore, whose game against Yale at 7 p.m. Friday at Franklin Field will be telecast on ESPNU. "ESPN is ESPN and it has been that way for some years now.
"Most high school teams play on Friday nights, so it'll be fun to play on a Friday night. We have 19 kids on our team from California, so their families will be able to watch them at home."
In April, the Ivy League signed a 10-year contract with ESPN that will make more than 1,100 Ivy League sporting events available on the new streaming service ESPN+ that launched in April.
As part of the agreement, at least 24 Ivy League events will be telecast on ESPN's linear networks.
Penn's game with Yale and the one at Cornell on Nov. 2 are two of the six football games – including Harvard-Yale – to be telecast on a linear channel.
"I hope our kids haven't already been thinking about that," Priore said, "but I'm sure that by Thursday they'll get their juices flowing."
ESPN has not telecast a football event from Franklin Field since November 2002, when the pregame show College GameDay went to South 33rd Street.
Although it marked the first time GameDay had gone to an NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS) campus, the game against Harvard was not even televised on ESPN.
ESPN responded to a request from the Ivy to bring the show to Penn for a game. The telecast attracted 1.52 million households – setting a regular-season record for the show.
The Quakers (4-1, 1-1 Ivy) are coming off a 13-10 victory over Columbia.
Penn had first-and-goal on five occasions but came away with a season-low 13 points.
"For the most part, our offense controlled the game," Priore said. "We had almost 400 yards of offense, but what we failed to do was finish things in the red zone.
"Most of the stuff was self-inflicted missed opportunities by our offense. I thought our defense was solid all day.
"We've learned all season – mainly what not to do. We will be a dangerous team once we pick up all facets and play clean games. Still, you never want to apologize for any game that you win."
What you need to know
Records: Penn (4-1, 1-1 in Ivy League); Yale (3-2, 1-1)
Coaches: Ray Priore, 24-11 in fourth season at Penn; Tony Reno, 36-29 in seventh season at Yale
TV/radio: ESPNU, WNTP-AM ( 990)
History vs. team: Yale won, 24-19, last season and leads the all-time series, 48-36-1.
Three things to watch:
The Quakers are playing back-to-back Ivy League games at home for the first time since 1989. Penn has won five consecutive games at Franklin Field since losing to Yale on Oct. 21, 2017. The Bulldogs rushed for 217 yards in that game. After throwing two interceptions in the season opener, sophomore Ryan Glover has thrown just one over the last four games.
Yale quarterback Kurt Rawlings has thrown for 1,425 yards and nine touchdowns. Bulldogs running back Zane Dudek – the 2017 Ivy rookie of the year – rushed for 217 yards in the season opener but has been hampered by injury. He has played in just two of the last four games, gaining just 61 yards.
Penn running back Karekin Brooks is second in the Ivy League with 461 rushing yards but had his touchdown streak of five consecutive games ended last week against Columbia. The Quakers now have 23 sacks, passing last season's total of 18. Penn ranks fifth in FCS with an average of 9.8 tackles for loss.