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At 9 o'clock this morning a special train will pull out of Back Bay and head for New Haven, carrying with it Harvard's hopes of capturing the Big Three football title.
For it is this mythical title that will be decided by the outcome of tomorrow's clash. By virtue of the Crimson-Tiger tie and the Eli victory last week, the team that fishes a win out of the Bowl will have a right to claim H-Y-P supremacy.
Eli Paper Supremacy
On paper, it looks as though Yale must be conceded a slight edge. But Harvard-Yale games can't be figured on paper. Pre-game statisticians could have hardly predicted the Yale 3-0 triumph over Barry Wood's 1931 team, a team that had downed Army and Holy Cross to stave off defeat until Albie Booth kicked away an unblemished record in the last quarter. And on the other side of the fence, there is the record of Harvard's last Yale and major victory in 1933 when Fergie Locke ran through the entire Eli team for a score on a kickoff. That year, Yale was rated a heavy favorite, and lost 19-6.
Even disregarding the fact that no team can be a favorite in this traditional series, there is one other important consideration which whittles down the Eli edge-on-paper into a negative quantity, namely that the Harlow-coached squad is still on its way up, while it is generally acknowledged that Ducky Pond's team reached its psychological peak at Princeton last week.
Due to the Virginia flasco in the Stadium, the Crimson eleven suffered a relapse which continued just far enough into the Navy battle to allow the visitors to pile up an early lead. But by the end of the third quarter the Crimson forces had staged a comeback which indicated that the Harlow improvement trail had been found again.
Both teams thus far have displayed complementary weaknesses defensively. Ever since Dubiel's ineligibility, Harvard has had to face a definite end problem. In recent games, Bob Green and Don Daughters have been turning in admirable performances, and have been ably supported by Gibby Winter and Win Jameson. This improvement, under the tutelage of Wes Fesler, has been swift and continuous, but none-the-less, the majority of ground gained on Harvard this fall has been around the flanks. Few plays have gathered much momentum through the center trio of Gaffney, Jones and Kessler. And anywhere from left to right tackle 200 pounds of Al Kevorkian is likely to turn up at crucial moments.
Yale, on the other hand, has never had an end problem--not since Larry Kelley was a Sophomore. And his flank-mate, Carey, can hold up his own end with marked ability. It is the center of the Eli team that is most vulnerable, and it is between tackles that field general Roberts will direct his running attack. The Elis have fallen repeatedly for the so-called mouse trap plays which rely upon good timing and cross-blocking, two branches of the game that Harlow has emphasized all fall.
Star vs. Replacements
While Clint Frank, considered by many grid followers as the outstanding back of the East, gives the starting backfield a slight edge, this advantage is overbalanced by the eight first-string backs which Coach Howie Odell has been able to provide for the game. Struck and Hedblom at fullbacks; McTernen, Roberts, Oakes, and Stuart at wingbacks; and Wilson and Boston at quarterback will be substituted for each other with bewildering rapidity, keeping the attack quartet fresh at all times. And in case these eight should get winded, Ford and Watt have both rated starting berths during the season.
The passing attack of both teams has been deadly, and the success of both against Princeton has been largely the result of well-timed aerial bombs. Oakes to Stuart, Frank to Kelley are the threats of the day, and their relative success may play a large part in determining the final score. Frank can run, too--but it is the opinion of many Cambridge rooters that he won't outshine a Crimson streak named Stuart.
And so a wide open game, with long passes and runs, and more than likely a high score seems in the offing. Anything can happen in a Harvard-Yale football game, but with a fair share of the breaks, it looks like a Crimson Saturday evening.
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