Offense wins games, defense wins championships, or so the old saying goes. But, this past week, both Brown and Harvard won their games with spectacular defensive shows, and merely formidable offensive outings. This weekend both teams are looking to improve and Saturday’s game could very well decide whether or not the Crimson repeat as Ivy Champions or whether there is a new dog, or perhaps bear, in town.
In the official Ivy League pre-season poll, the Bears were chosen to finish third in the Ivies for the second year in a row, after the Crimson and Yale, tied for first in the same poll. But, Brown has the advantage of hosting both Harvard and the Bulldogs in its home stadium.
“We are happy to have the opportunity to play at home,” Bears coach Phil Estes said. “The weather is not supposed to be good, but it should not stop alumni and other Brown football fans from coming out. It should be a great atmosphere.”
While the Bears may have the atmosphere in its favor, the Crimson seems to have history in its. Harvard has beaten Brown for the past eight years in a row, but this does not seem to diminish the Bears’ expectations.
“We feel like we should be number one, but everyone likes the fact that we’re under the radar, so we can sneak up on people.” Brown senior quarterback Michael Dougherty said.
Doughtery is the top returning passer in the Ivy League. He leads the offensive threat against the Crimson. It will be up to Harvard’s cornerbacks to pressure the speedy Brown receiver Buddy Farnham, who led the Ivy League Conference last year with the highest number of receptions with an average of 7.80 a game. Farnham is not the only receiver that the Crimson has to worry about. Junior receiver Bobby Sewall, who was second in Ivy League receptions only to Farnham, must also be shut down. Harvard needs to force turnovers and get the ball back into senior quarterback Chris Pizzotti’s hands to give more chances to the Crimson offense.
With the Bears’ increased passing threats, Harvard’s inexperienced secondary, led by pre-season All-American Andrew Berry, will be put to the test.
“From a defensive standpoint we really have to be ready,” Senior cornerback Andrew Berry said. “Brown has a good passing game with one of the best passing quarterbacks and two All-Ivy receivers. We really have to be prepared. It is definitely going to be a challenge.”
All this focus on the Crimson’s defense should not take away from its dangerous offense. In last week’s game, senior quarterback Chris Pizzotti lead Harvard to a 25-24 victory over Holy Cross in a huge fourth quarter comeback. Last week he threw for 370 yards and was 30-44 in passing completions. But, what will help the Crimson against the Bears even more than his numbers is his poise on the field. In the battle for the Ivy title, his late-game composure is exactly what is needed to come out on top.
“You never know how a game is going to unfold. It will come down to who makes the least mistakes.” Estes said.
Coming off a Championship winning season, the Crimson are looking for a repeat. But Brown does not count itself out of the race just yet. Its seniors tasted the Championship their freshman year, when the Bears last won the conference. This game could make or break the season for both teams. A win would keep the path to the Ivy Championship within clear view, whereas a loss could ultimately come back to bite.