- 11/20/2008, 11:01AM ET
Emily Cunningham said 11/20, 11:01 AM
Here's why: the Crimson is an offensive machine, and it starts with the QB. Senior Chris Pizzotti had an off-day statistically last weekend at Penn, but still through two TD passes en route to a W in Philly. He averages 265 passing yards a game and has a deep corps of receivers with whom to work. Oh yeah, and he's 19-2 as a starter. QB advantage? Harvard.
You'll remind me that Yale has the nation's second-ranked passing defense, and that should give Pizzotti and his receivers more trouble than they're used to. That's where the running game comes in. While no back averages over 50 yards a game on the ground, it's the tandem approach that has worked so well this year: Gino Gordon, Ben Jenkins, and even Pizzotti have shared the load. The result? Harvard leads the Ivies in rushing scores. And let's be honest: while Yale RB Mike McLeod used to shred defenses, he's just not what he was last year. Running game advantage: Harvard.
The Crimson is giving up uncharacteristically high numbers defensively: 20 points a game and 322 yards of total offense. They're performed when it counts, though, getting an end-zone interception from safety Ryan Barnes to seal the Penn win. Slight edge: Yale.
William Wong said 11/20, 01:28 PM
It's true that this season has been somewhat disappointing considering that the Bulldogs are coming off of a 9-1 season in 2007. However, the team has shown steady improvement during the past month and is hitting its stride at just the right time.
While our offensive struggles have been in large part due to unsteady play at quarterback, where two candidates were battling for the starting job. Just when Coach Jack Siedlecki settled on senior Ryan Fodor, Fodor suffered a shoulder injury that left sophomore Brook Hart taking over under center. With a few games under his belt, Hart is beginning to get comfortable running the offense, just in time for this week's face off with the Crimson. Last week against Princeton, Hart got the Bulldogs up early with two TD passes, a lead they never relinquished.
Meanwhile, what has been consistent all year has been the play of the Yale defense. Led by All-Ivy linebacker Bobby Abare, it currently tops the FCS in opponent's scoring, giving up only 10.6 points per game. Our strength on the line will keep Harvard's rushing attack at bay and provide enough pressure on Pizzotti to keep him well under his 265 yard average.
Emily Cunningham said 11/20, 04:10 PM
We seem to agree--even if you might not say it outright--that the numbers favor the Crimson in Saturday's matchup. But what about history? You'll cite the Bulldogs' overall advantage--they've won 11 more times in 124 Games. What's more, the last three years have seen the road team emerge victorious: Crimson Crazies have rushed the Yale Bowl twice, while Elis broke their ankles jumping from Harvard Stadium's ten-foot wall. But Harvard has won six of the last seven meetings, including last year's 37-6 laugher between two undefeated teams. When it's do-or-die, the Crimson does it. That doesn't bode well for the Bulldogs.
I should concede that while Harvard expects to dominate on the gridiron, Yale holds an indisputable edge in another time-honored race: that for Best Tailgate. Good luck finding a drink on the other side of the river, young Yalies. Underage drinkers--and Yale running backs--should keep one eye open for Harvard senior linebacker Peter Ajayi, who does his best Terry Tate impression in this YouTube gem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ox6S7nbeKjw. Hey tourists!
William Wong said 11/20, 09:27 PM
Our broken ankles are less the fault of bold Elis willing to take a leap of faith and more the fact that Harvard Stadium is, like the inane tailgating restrictions of Boston, designed to sap all the fun from all that is holy about football. The Yale Bowl is the first bowl-shaped stadium in America, and has hosted both the NY Football Giants and the Yankees. Harvard Stadium...looks like a horseshoe.
As far as history goes, no program has a more illustrious past than the Yale Bulldogs. Though commenters will likely point out that Ivy League football is no longer relevant, those who doubt the dominance of Yale's program may not realize that the Bulldogs were the first team to reach 700 wins. Sure, we practically invented the game and had about a 50-year head start, but the fact remains that Yale football is steeped in tradition.
Part of that tradition, of course, is taking pleasure in demolishing our northern rivals. Come Saturday afternoon, it'll be the Eli faithful that will once again be rushing the field, broken ankles and all.
Emily Cunningham said 11/21, 11:09 AM
Let's think twice before we crown Yale the forefather of Ivy football and Ivy sports in general. While Harvard Stadium may be painfully ugly, it's been an important contributor to the growth of football. In the early 1900s, the football powers-that-be wanted to increase the width of the playing field to reduce injuries, but the "horseshoe's" concrete structure--the first of its kind in the country--couldn't was too narrow to accomodate these rules. So they came up with a new one: the forward pass. You'll see it on Saturday--look Chris Pizzotti to Matt Luft.
But if we're looking for overall athletic supremacy in the Ivies, look no further than the banks of the now-frozen Charles. Last month, Harvard hosted the 44th annual Head of the Charles Regatta and drew hundreds of thousands of international spectators. The school sent a handful of athletes, both past and present, to this year's Olympic Games in Beijing. But for tradition of the hard-hitting variety, we'll see you at Harvard Stadium tomorrow. Enjoy The Game, everyone.
William Wong said 11/22, 10:02 AM
With about 2 hours until kickoff, the weather is a frigid 26 degrees and windy, all signs that Harvard's passing game will be affected by the cold New England conditions. Today will likely be about who will win the ground battle, and Mike McLeod and the Yale Bulldogs have proven that they can move the ball with the run. Look for Yale to continually pound the ball up the middle, just the way Walter Camp, the father of modern football, would have liked to see. Home court advantage will be less of a factor considering that nearly a third of Harvard Stadium will be full of Yale fans. And considering that tailgate restrictions will force everyone into the stadium by kickoff, the Bulldogs will certainly have a significant supporting crowd behind them.
Emily, see you at the tailgate. Everyone else, enjoy the Throwdown on the field today. Let's go Yale!
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