Last year, The Game decided the Ivy League championship. This year, it will decide which team, Harvard or Yale, will suffer least.
The Crimson and Elis enter The Stadium today for the 12:30 p.m. showdown (WHRB 95.3 FM, ESPN) with disappointing records.
Harvard is 2-7 overall, 2-4 in the, Ivy League. Yale is 2-6-1 overall, 2-3-1 in the Ivy League.
The Game, it's said, cures all ills. But only for the winner.
This year Harvard was expected to contend for a second-straight Ivy title. It didn't, dropping three of its first four league games. Yale was expected to have problems. It did, losing its last four league games.
Both teams have sustained injuries to key players. Crimson quarterback Tom Yohe fractured his right leg against Brown in Week 7. Backup Rod MacLeod twisted his ankle against Boston University a week later.
Yale lost its top three quarterbacks. The Elis had to call upon Darin Kehler, a baseball player who did not intend to play football this year, to lead the offense.
Harvard must use The Game as wine. Drink and forget the dashed expectations.
"It has to make up for this year, no question," Harvard Coach Joe Restic said. "It's a big game for us, it's a big game for them."
Yale must use The Game as a sword. Stab and get revenge for Harvard's championship triumph last year.
"We haven't faired very well against Harvard the last few years." Yale Coach Carm Cozza said. "Winning this game would help us. It would help them. It's nice to end the season with a nice taste in your mouth."
Statistically, the two teams are comparable. Harvard has a wild card, however. He wears number 47. He's Tony Hinz, a running back who ran for 161 yards in last year's Game.
Hinz broke a bone in his band against Brown but returned last week against Penn, rushing for 95 yards on 17 carries.
The Crimson boasts other offensive threats: wideout Neil Phillips, wingback Jim Reidy. But the Elis can match them with tailback Buddy Zachery and fullback Kevin Callahan.
Picking a winner of The Game is not an easy task. Whenever Cozza volunteers a prediction, he is wrong, he said.
"Breaks make such a difference," Cozza said. "On paper we're evenly matched."
"I don't know how these gamblers do it." Cozza added. "Even I don't know how my team is going to play from week to week. But these gamblers are confident enough to bet on the games. It's beyond me."
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