PRINCETON, N.J.--Favored by tradition, if not by experts, the Crimson varsity football team hopes to take a giant step towards its first Big Three title since 1941 by beating Princeton at Palmer Stadium this afternoon.
Today's contest, which marks the 75th anniversary of the start of round-robin competition between Harvard, Yale and Princeton, will begin at 1:30 p.m. Thirty-five thousand will watch.
The varsity arrived here at noon yesterday and took a brisk hour-long work-out in Palmer Stadium at 3 p.m. A large contingent of rooters from the College began arriving at the supper hour and more are expected today.
Although the Crimson goes into the game with a record as good as the Tigers' --five victories and one defeat--the experts have installed Princeton as a 13 to 19 point favorite.
In their pre-game analyses, however, most of them failed to note that never in the 75 years of the series has either team beaten the other more than five times in a row.
Both Harvard and Princeton have recorded five straight victories before, the Tigers three times, and the Crimson once. In every case, however, they lost the sixth time out.
Some Crimson backers see it as significant that the Tigers once again have a streak of five going, but their overall optimism is based on more than sheer numerical chance.
Tigers Tough on Defense
The difference between the two teams most often cited is the superior Tiger defense, which hasn't yielded a point in the last 14 quarters. It has been giving ground on the average of 88 yards per game.
The Harvard defense has been adequate on the ground, but extremely poor against passes. For that reason, Tiger throwers Bill Tryon and Bob Unger will be due for heavy work this afternoon.
Although Princeton has been averaging better than 32 points per game, the second highest scoring average in the nation, its over-all attack is rated equal to the Crimson's at best.
Harvard, whose average is 26 points per game, is conceded a big edge on the ground. With Gil O'Neil calling and John Culver, Dick Clasby, and John Ederer carrying, the Crimson backfield ranks with the best in the East.
In Clasby, Princeton fans will be seeing a back who threatens to eclipse the Ivy League individual rushing mark set by Dick Kazmaier last year. With three games to go, Clasby has gained 695 yards in 137 attempts, only 166 yards shots of Kazmaier's total.
The varsity, in establishing an awesome reputation on the ground, has been using only the straightest possible single-wing plays.
Today, however, there will be lots of variations, in addition to a few new maneuvers.