Saturday, November 21, 2009

For We Know That O'er Old Eli...

Today's Video: Harvard Beats Yale 29-29

Well, it's the end of the Ivy League football season, and this is it. It's the 126th playing of "THE GAME," one of the oldest rivalries in college football. There are plenty of storied traditions:

1875: Both teams met on the field for the first time, although the game was not football, but a rugby/soccer mix. Harvard grabbed 4 goals and 4 tries, while shutting the Elis out, to claim first blood.

1905: In what could be described as the first Game of the Century, undefeated Harvard and Yale clashed in what would be an 8-0 Yale victory. No touchdowns were scored. That edition of THE GAME was described as such: "It was the most magnificent sight ... every lineman's face was dripping with blood."

1916: Yale coach T.A.D. Jones tells the Elis “Gentlemen, you are now going to play football against Harvard. Never again in your whole life will you do anything so important," inspiring them to a 6-3 victory at the Yale Bowl.

1968: THE GAME to end all games. "Never in my lifetime will I ever see another ending like that one. It just doesn't happen." - John Yovicsin. Yale enters Cambridge on a 16 game winning streak, with a future NFL star at running back and Brian Dowling, who inspired a character in Doonesbury, at QB. The Crimson are down 16 in the waning minutes, but with 42 seconds left, the Crimson trailed 29-21. With no time remaining, Harvard would then make it 29-27 and need to go for two. And they got it, earning a share of the Ivy League title.

1983: THE GAME had its 100th playing. Much like the first game, it was Harvard that would claim the win 16-7 at the Yale Bowl.

2005: After 122 meetings, Harvard-Yale finally had its first overtime game. And the overtime game did not disappoint. First though, it took an effort just to get to OT, as the Crimson trailed 21-3. But Harvard rallied, getting the game to 24-24. After the 1st OT, the score had not changed. Nor did it in the second. The sun was setting over New Haven, and the possibility that a tie would need to be called on account of darkness seemed possible in the light-less Yale Bowl. But then, Clifton Dawson would run from 2 yards out to give the Crimson the improbable and historic win.

2009: What lays in store for these two teams as they meet for the 126th time? Let's start with where they were last week.
Harvard (6-3, 5-1) was at home for Senior Day in Cambridge, facing fellow Ivy League leader Penn in a showdown for the Ivy League title during the pouring rain. Penn jumped out to a 17-0 lead. The Crimson cut into the deficit to make it 17-7, but they were battling the elements, the clock, and the stiff Penn defense, and a goal line stand by the Quakers left the Johnnies with a bitter taste in their mouth and little chance at an Ivy League title.
Yale (4-5, 2-4) will be looking to finish the year at .500, after being dropped last week on the road against Princeton. Princeton led 21-3 at one point, but Yale made a game out of it, falling 24-17. The Elis gave up 383 yards on the day, including 247 rushing yards, but their offense also put up 402 yards on the day.

Pregame coverage of the 126th Playing of THE GAME will begin at a special time, 10:45 AM. Here are some of the highlights:
- Baltimore Raven center, Pro-Bowler, and Harvard Crimson alum Matt Birk will be on the show to talk about Harvard-Yale and his current NFL career.
- Former writer of the Harvard Crimson and current writer for Sports Illustrated, Pablo Torre, joined us to chat as well.
- Tim Murphy, as always, talked with us a few minutes about Harvard going into THE GAME.
- We look at the five greatest Crimson victories in THE GAME, and talk with the players that made them special, along with guest analysis with John Powers of the Boston Globe.
- Some other Harvard athletes show their support for the Crimson on Harvard-Yale weekend as two Crimson hockey players, no strangers to the radio booth, stopped by to talk with Kicker Patrick Long, the host of our football halftime show, in a special segment we're calling "Kicking It Top Shelf".
- Of course, as always, James Yoon and Charlie Hobbs will give us the inside scoop on Harvard-Yale, and make their predictions for THE GAME.
- A special thanks to the seniors of the Harvard Crimson football team, who lent us their time and voices for a very special presentation which will bring us to our broadcast, where Alasdair Wilkins, Kara Hollis, and Scott Reed will have the call live from the Yale Bowl at 12 PM.
- And a second special thanks to the entirety of the WHRB Sports department, Alasdair Wilkins, Tom Brennan, Kara Hollis, James Yoon, Scott Reed, Brendan Roche, Tom McCarthy, Raafi Alidina, and Charlie Hobbs, who all put a ton of work into making this broadcast the best broadcast of THE GAME ever. So don't miss a minute, beginning with the pregame at 10:45 AM and kickoff at 12 PM on 95.3 FM WHRB, and streaming online at

After the jump, we'll talk about the rest of the action in the final week of Ancient Eight play.

We will start with the late game first, as that has the most consequences of any of the remaining games being played. At 1 PM, the Cornell Big Red (2-7, 1-5) will look to spoil the Ivy League season of the Penn Quakers (7-2, 6-0) at Franklin Field. If Penn can win at home, they finish the Ivy League season undefeated, and take home the championship by themselves. If somehow, last place Cornell pulls off the upset on the road, the Big Red hand the Harvard Crimson a chance to earn a share of the Ivy League title. The Big Red will need to rebound from last week's 30-20 loss against Columbia. Cornell was leading 20-16 at the half, but two second half touchdowns from M.A. Olawale led to the Big Red's defeat. Cornell had 380 yards, but six turnovers in the defeat. Penn, meanwhile, will have to stay motivated and not look past Cornell after their 17-7 win against Harvard gave them a share of the Ivy League title last week. Penn's defense has only allowed 14 points in the last 18 quarters of play, 7 of which came on Collier Winters' lone TD pass and the lone score for the Crimson last week. Penn put up 263 yards on the day, but were held to 82 yards rushing.

It's Senior Day for Dartmouth as the much improved Big Green (2-7, 2-4) take on a struggling Princeton Tigers team (3-6, 2-4). Dartmouth lost 14-7 last week in OT to Brown, the second consecutive OT game for the Big Green. Dartmouth was outgained 322-221, but they were able to hang on until OT before the Bears finally put them away. Princeton, meanwhile, celebrated their Senior Day last week with a win against the Yale Bulldogs. The Tigers had 383 yards, and their four turnovers matched the four by the Elis. Princeton lead 21-3 at one point, but Yale made it close toward the end. Princeton would hang on to the lead to win 24-17.

And in NYC, it's Senior Day for a Columbia Lions team (3-6, 2-4) that looked like they would be in contention for the Ivy League title before they trailed off drastically. The Lions host Brown (6-3, 4-2) who can, at best, move into second place in the Ancient Eight with a win and a Harvard loss. Columbia ended a 5 game losing streak with a 30-20 win against Cornell on the road last week. Brown, meanwhile, faced a pesky Dartmouth squad that brought them to OT at 7-7. Buddy Farnham caught a 17-yard pass for the game winning score in OT to give Brown the 14-7 victory.

That's going to do it for the year here on the blog as far as football previews go. I do hope you all enjoyed the ten posts prior to all of the football games this year. Again, a big thank you to everyone associated with the Harvard football team for talking with us, especially Patrick Long, who hosted the halftime show with Kara Hollis and who helped us bring in some great guests from the team during the year. Pat also helped us organize our special presentation with all of the seniors. Another thank you to the entire WHRB Sports Dept. for their work during football broadcasts this year, particularly Seniors Alasdair Wilkins and Tom Brennan. And of course, thank you all for reading the blog and for listening to our coverage. Don't forget, our coverage of THE GAME begins at 10:45 AM with our extra-special 75 min. pregame show, and kickoff is at 12 PM and it is all on 95.3 FM and

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