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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
PROVIDENCE, R.I.--For those of you with a sense of history, the final score was not the only disappointment you left here with on Saturday.
You have to go back to the final afternoon of the 1973 season, in the Yale Bowl when the Elis cost Harvard a share of the Ivy League title with a stunning 35-0 upset, to find the Crimson's last defeat on the road.
That debacle, which took place when all but a handful of us were still in high school, was also the last occasion when a school beat Harvard in football two years in a row.
You have to go back even farther, digging through your trusty "Harvard Football Media Guide," to spot the last dark moment when Harvard had a losing record this late in the season.
For those of you who don't already know, it was in 1971 during Joe Restic's first campaign at the Crimson helm. A 21-10 throttling at the hands of Princeton had just dropped the Harvard record to 3-4, and the team had to wrap up its season on the road.
Restic's charges came off the floor, however, to post triumphs over Brown (24-19) and Yale (35-16). Beating the gridders from New Haven has a way of redeeming any season, of course. Before this starts sounding like a eulogy, however, we must remember that Harvard has a plausible shot at a three-or four-way tie for the title. (If a tie is like kissing your sister, what is a four-way tie like?)
Harvard could do it with a recovery similar to the one the 1971 team made if Dartmouth stumbles against either red-hot Brown or Penn. Before you start printing up "We're the Champs" bumper stickers, however, let's take another lesson from history.
Only once in the 21 years of official Ivy League play has the champion lost more than one league game (Harvard's lost twice). That came in 1963 when the Big Green edged Princeton on the final day of the season, 22-21, to finish in a tie with the 5-2 Tigers. It's definitely a long shot this time around.
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