The big games get big names.
So whether you call this one the Showdown at Brown or the Dream on Halloween, the fact remains clear and simple: this afternoon's battle for sole possession of first place between Harvard and Brown is the Ivy's most important football game of the year. For now.
Following an emotional setback at Cornell a few weeks back, Harvard rebounded to collect consecutive league wins over Dartmouth and Princeton.
And as a result, the Crimson is once again embroiled in the thrill of a league race, a thrill it last experienced two years ago.
Last Saturday, Harvard proved itself against Princeton. Today, the gridders must do so again at Brown (1 p.m., 95.3 WHRB).
For Harvard (3-1 Ivies, 5-1 overall), a second loss in the tight Ancient Eight could mean an early exit from the league race.
While the Bruins (3-1 Ivies, 4-2 overall) have only Dartmouth and Columbia (a combined 0-7 in the Ivies) remaining on their league slate, the Crimson still must contend with five-time defending Ivy champ Penn and always unpredictable Yale.
"With all due respect to Dartmouth and Columbia, certainly when you look at the schedule, a win [today] puts us in excellent position," said fourth-year Brown Coach John Rosenberg. "When you go down the list, it's certainly a lot more comfortable to be where we are."
"We'll be in the driver's seat with a win," the 1967 Harvard graduate added, "but a loss doesn't put us out of it."
One Halloween ago, the Crimson was 2-4 and well out of the hunt for an Ivy crown. This year, the gridders boast their first 5-1 record in 11 years and sit near the top of almost every major statistical category.
Harvard currently ranks second in the Ivies in both total offense and total defense, and standout signalcaller Tom Yohe last week established himself as the most prolific passer in the Ivies this season.
Accolades continue to pour in for the junior phenom, who has completed 93 of 178 passes for 1387 yards and two touchdowns, and is just a game or two away from shattering several Harvard passing records.
Brown's pass defense has been rather stingy this fall, but Yohe needs just 188 more yards to walk away with the new all-time single season yardage mark. He also stands just two scoring strikes away from the single season touchdown record.
In recent weeks, Harvard has proved that it has a quite capable running game as well.
Tony Hinz, who exploded for a 73-yd. run against the Big Green two weeks ago, followed up with another good day against Princeton and leads the gridders with 420 yards on the year. Hinz is joined in the backfield by Dave Bunning (63 rushes for 300 yards, three touchdowns) and Bob Glatz (43 rushes, 212 yards, two TD's).
Harvard will have to contend with Brown All-America candidate Walt Cataldo, a defensive back, and senior linebacker Tyler Wolfram, who has registered an amazing 75 tackles on the year. (Linebacker Richard Mau leads Harvard with 40.)
But the Bruins, coming off a 41-0 loss to Division I-AA number-one ranked Holy Cross last weekend, have been unable to contain the run, surrendering nearly 1200 yards on the ground in '87.
In contrast, the Harvard defense--led by a fabulous front five--has allowed only 462 rushing yards, while also registering 26 sacks.
"This is the biggest, strongest, most physical Harvard [defensive line] l've seen," said Rosenberg, whose offense relies heavily on the run. "We have to avoid a situation where we have to throw the ball."
The reason for that is that Bruin quarterback Mark Donovan has completed less than 50 percent of his passes, for a mere 457 yards.
Nevertheless, Harvard has bad memories of Donovan, who last year tossed three TD passes to catapul Brown from a 14-0 deficit to a 31-19 victory over the Crimson.