There are plenty of big moments in Penn Athletics history, from the undefeated football team of 1897 to the upset of No. 17 Villanova at the Palestra a year ago. This year brings a fresh slate of big games to Penn's campus — here are five dates Penn sports fans should circle on their calendars this academic year.
Nov. 8 — Collegiate Sprint Football League Championship Game
While this is the only entry on this list that Penn is not guaranteed to participate in, it is also the only national championship to be hosted on campus. Coinciding with the 125th anniversary of Franklin Field's opening, the CSFL's championship game will come to Penn. The game, featuring the winners of the five-team North and South divisions, will give Penn a chance to win its sixth sprint football title on home turf.
The Quakers last won the title three years ago in 2016, and advanced to the inaugural CSFL championship game the following year. While Penn did not win the South division to advance to the final last season, the Red and Blue are expected to be in the running again this season. Fans in attendance on Nov. 8 are likely to see a game featuring either the hosting Quakers or a battle between perennial powers Army and Navy.
Nov. 23 — Football vs. Princeton
Franklin Field will play host to the annual Penn-Princeton football game on Nov. 23, and the Quakers will be out for revenge. The last time the Red and Blue hosted their closest rivals, Penn escaped in a 41-38 Homecoming thriller after a late field goal miss from the Tigers. The score would not be as close one year later, however, as the New Jersey side dominated in a 42-14 victory to close out a perfect 10-0 season.
Key to Penn's success will be strong play from senior running back Karekin Brooks, as well as slowing down Princeton's explosive offense. If history is any indication, Franklin Field will be packed for the famous bi-annual "Puck Frinceton" showdown between the two foes. Homecoming against Cornell might be two weeks prior, but Penn-Princeton will be the game to watch come November.
Jan. 11 — Women's basketball vs. Princeton
The Red and Blue’s first Ivy League game of the season will come at the Palestra on Jan. 11, and it won’t be an easy one. Princeton has defeated the Quakers five out of six times over the past two seasons, with two of those losses taking place in the Ivy League Tournament final.
With the presence of junior center Eleah Parker and several other key contributors from last year's Ivy title-winning team, Penn will have a fighting chance in any contest. However, the loss of seniors Ashley Russell and Princess Aghayere, along with the difficulty of stopping Princeton star Bella Alarie, will make the first home game of 2020 a major challenge for the Red and Blue.
Jan. 31 — Men's basketball vs. Harvard
On Jan. 31, the Quakers will welcome Harvard to the Palestra for the team’s first home game of the Ivy weekend slate. After playing Big 5 rivals Saint Joseph’s and Temple the two previous Saturdays, the Red and Blue should be sharp for potentially the biggest game of the season.
Last year, the Crimson defeated the Red and Blue in a heartbreaking overtime loss before picking up two more wins over the Quakers, one of which came in the Ivy League Tournament. To beat Harvard this season, Penn will need to overcome a team that will be even stronger with the return of injured senior forward Seth Towns. The Red and Blue, however, will return a star of their own in senior guard Ryan Betley, making this matchup an important indicator of which team could win the Ivy title in March.
Apr. 23-25 — Penn Relays
For three days in late April, Franklin Field becomes electric with the excitement of the Penn Relays. Crowds come from all over the globe, particularly the Caribbean, to cheer on their hometown favorites of all ages as they compete with the world's best in track and field events. The famed USA vs. the World Relays are always a highlight, with Olympians often racing for their countries for all to see. The Relays include races for elementary-age runners up to senior citizens, offering a wide range of athletes to support.
Penn's athletes also get to compete in front of their home crowd, competing for glory in a number of events. At last year's event, Penn's distance medley relay team smashed its competition with a time of 10:59.44 to become the first Ivy League women's team to win a Championship of America relay at the event. For track and field fans and Penn students alike, the Penn Relays provide three days of nonstop action you won't want to miss.