The Harvard and Yale football teams are, again, hoping to salvage dismal seasons as they face off in The Game today at Yale Bowl.
Today's contest, the 110th meeting between the two schools, marks Harvard Coach Joe Restic's last game on the Crimson sideline.
Harvard (1-5 Ivy, 3-6 overall), which started the season strong with three wins in its first five games, has since dropped its last four contests, losing late in games against Princeton, Dartmouth and Penn.
Yale (1-5, 2-7) has only victories over Holy Cross and Columbia, and has lost its last three games by at least three touchdowns.
With identical Ivy records, the teams are battling to avoid the cellar.
The dismal seasons of both teams have reduced interest in this year's showdown, but there is no question for fans that their school must win The Game.
At least 35,000 tickets are still available today.
More than 8,000 tickets have been sold to Harvard fans, primarily because of two factors--it's The Game, and it's Restic's farewell.
The Crimson will try to send Restic off to retirement with his 118th victory, the most in Harvard history.
Harvard quarterback Mike Giardi will run the standby Multi-Flex offense--which varies offensive sets and uses play fakes to confuse defenses--against a weak Yale defense that has given up an average of 189 rushing yards per game and 219.9 yards per game passing.
Harvard's running game has been consistently solid, with running backs Nick Isaacson, Mark Cote, David Sprinkle, and John Ponosuk averaging 4.7 yards per carry (283 for 1336).
Harvard opened the season with questions marks at running back, but those questions were answered. Yale came into the season with a proven back, Keith Price, but an off-season injury turned the running game into a problem for Yale.
Yale's rushing offense has struggled mightily this season, averaging only 2.7 yards per carry.
Junior tailback Bob Nelson is Yale's leading rusher with 479 yards on 143 carries, but the team is averaging under 100 yards per game.
Yale's passing game will pose more of a threat to Harvard. Senior quarterback Steve Mills ran off a string of five straight 200-yard games earlier this season, passing to a deep receiving corps led by Dave Iwan.
Iwan, a senior split end, has 39 receptions for 698 yards, an average of 17.9 yards per catch. He needs only 93 more yards to break Yale's single season record of 791 yards set in 1981.
Yale will try to pass its way to victory against a Harvard secondary that is geared more to stopping the run. Harvard has allowed 2,107 passing yards. But Yale has struggled offensively recently, scoring just 14 points in its last three games.
Harvard cornerbacks Jae Ellis and Chris Andre will try to keep the ball away from Yale's receiving threats.
The Crimson, led by Captain Brian Ramer, will try to shut down any rushing attack that Yale can muster. Ramer, a linebacker, has 93 tackles this season. The defensive line also needs to pressure Mills to prevent him from completing his passes.