A tie for the Ivy League title, the pride of myriad alumni, and the hopes of two football squads will be at stake this Saturday when the Crimson from Harvard invade the Yale Bowl to play the Bulldogs in the 90th renewal of their annual confrontation.
"Harvard plays it as though it's the only game of the season, and Yale approaches it the same way," Crimson coach Joe Restic said when questioned about the significance of The Game. This year, however, more than the pride of beating the other team is at stake.
A Harvard victory would ensure the Crimson of at least a tie for the conference championship, and they could win it outright if Dartmouth should lose to Princeton. Yale could tie for the title with Harvard and Dartmouth if the latter two should meet defeat in saturday's games. These added dimensions should make The Game all the more interesting to Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth fans.
Harvard brings a 7-1 record into The Game, its best record since 1968 when the Crimson tied Yale for the Ivy League title. Picked to round out the second division of the Ivy League, Harvard has amazed all the experts by combining a record-breaking offense with an up-and-down defense to produce a sterling season. Their only defeat was a 24-19 loss to Dartmouth, a team that has since gone undefeated and presently shares the league lead with the Crimson. Regardless of how Saturday's game turns out, Harvard will have completed a very successful season.
Yale is 4-2 in league play, having lost to Dartmouth and Brown. the Bulldogs, who run out of the wishbone formation, have had a successful season on offense, averaging 22 points per game. Tom Doyle, a junior who saw considerable action last year, is the quarterback. So far this season, Doyle has accounted for 794 total yards and 10 touchdowns.
Tyrell Hennings and Rudy Green are the running backs in the Yale offensive formation. They have combined for 969 yards and 6 touchdowns. Bob Fernandez, who has 22 receptions, is the main target when the Bulldogs elect to throw. The Elis are a solid offensive team and could present real problems for Harvard's unpredictable defense.
At the beginning of the season, the Crimson defense--which at one point led the nation--was receiving the lion's share of all the publicity. It seems to have steadily declined after the Cornell game. The Crimson defenders have had trouble stopping the option, a problem that could be crucial in The Game since Yale's offense pivots around the option. Whatever problems the Crimson defense has, they could hardly be compared to the problems that the Yale defense will have with Crimson offense.
Last year Pat McInally wallowed as a second string wide receiver and as a kicking specialist. This year McInally has set a string of school and League records. He currently is ranked second in the nation in receiving. Yale will have its hands full trying to stop him next Saturday. It probably won't succeed--and its efforts will only leave defensive gaps that the multi-faceted Crimson offense might capitalize upon.
Joe Restic has a way of creating surprises for opposing coaches and avid fans. The Crimson might be using some new formations in The Game, adding to the large number that Harvard already uses. Whatever tactic Restic decides to use, it will definitely utilize the talents of his offensive cogs, Jim Stoeckel, Neal Miller and Pat McInally. If they perform as they have in the past, they should beat Yale and make the 50-mph ride home seem a lot quicker.