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True Believers Mourn the Impending End of Watson Era

Nowhere to Turn
A swarm of Harvard defenders converges on a Penn ball carrier during last Saturday's action.
The year is 1912. You’re an aristocrat living in England, and you want to make a cross-Atlantic voyage to New York City. Maybe some joker has convinced you that Columbia is a top-tier university or that Ithaca is worth visiting. Whatever. The point is that you head to the docks at Southampton and purchase a ticket on a beautiful new luxury cruiser. The name of the boat is the Titanic.

Flash forward three days later. You’re dangling 40 feet above the ocean. The waves are higher than a Brown student at 11 a.m. The water is scarier than New Haven at night. You’re sliding off the boat, inch by inch, when a dollar floats down from above. It lands on your hand.

“See?” you yell at the ocean, where a dozen of your new friends are treading water. “I knew I made the right decision.”

Last year, Yale football beat Harvard for the first time in 10 years. It was a freak event—as unlikely as Tasty Burger completing an order in less than half-an-hour. Some Bulldogs fans used the win as an opportunity to vindicate their school.

“See?” the fans yelled. “I knew I made the right decision.”

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Granted, Yale students may not have the highest IQ. They may poop in toilets and live in buildings that look like mental asylums. But you’d figure that these kids would have enough common sense to know the difference between a pattern and an exception.

A pattern is when Harvard coach Tim Murphy wins 200 games. An exception is when a Yale student learns multiplication.

Onto the picks:

BROWN AT COLUMBIA

Remember when Columbia was 6-0? The New York Times had just written a cute piece about how the Lions had pleased some people, angered more, and emerged from a long stretch of putridness—longer even than the PowerPoints of a certain Crimson legend.

Well, the Lions fell quicker than Quan at Exec Dinner. First came a loss to the Bulldogs and then one to the Crimson. Thankfully for Columbia fans, the season concludes with matchups against Cornell and Brown—two institutions that resemble elementary schools in both talent and academic standards.

Last week, the Lions claimed the inevitable win over the Big Red. This week, they will claim the inevitable win over the Bears. Coach Al Bagnoli, congratulations on an 8-2 season. If the Bulldogs lose, you may even claim an Ancient Eight crown. I may name my first child after you.

I’m not kidding.

PICK: Columbia 24, Brown 9

CORNELL AT PENN

Penn wide receiver Justin Watson catches footballs like freshmen at First-Chance Dance catch mono. The Quakers legend runs routes like G-Reg runs the rap game. He pounds opponents like Slap Cup Kid pounds solo cups. He makes plays like Kazoo Kid makes music. He disregards opponents like that YouTube announcer disregards a missed field goal kick. He excites fans like Sweet n’ Nasty excites customers. He turns around linebackers like FM turns around the Ed Office. He sheds cornerbacks like Steve sheds belts. He messes up safeties like Kim messes up Sephora.

For Watson, the dog days really are over. He listens to “Dancing Queen” as pregame motivation. He never gets carded at Dok Bua.

To put it simply, Justin Watson is a legend. Like “Barney meets his maker”-level legend.

Cornell, meanwhile, is in Ithaca.

PICK: Penn 31, Cornell 16

PRINCETON AT DARTMOUTH

I don’t have much to say here, although this game has major conference implications. Dartmouth, along with Columbia, sports two league losses. A Big Green victory combined with a Yale loss would guarantee Dartmouth a share of the title.

This outcome won’t pass, however. Why? Because I have a gut feeling and it’s 3:22 a.m. Princeton quarterback Chad Kanoff remains the most impressive thrower that I’ve ever seen as a reporter. He tosses more naturally than Julio Fierro at the Kong.

The Big Green will play with the intensity of a title-contender, but the Tigers will play with the intensity of a team trying to leave Hanover before the sun goes down.

PICK: Princeton 34, Dartmouth 24

HARVARD AT YALE

Ah yes—The Game.

The last time I visited New Haven, the year was 2015, and Harvard football was flying high. The Crimson trounced Yale, 38-19, as then-freshman Justice Shelton-Mosley notched three touchdowns.

That Saturday, Harvard football was about the only thing in fine form in New Haven. Rats roamed the streets. Gothic architecture prevailed. And everywhere, as far as the eye could stretch, I could see Yale students.

What do you call a supermodel on Yale’s campus? A visitor. What do you call a pedestrian at 10 p.m.? Afraid. What do you call a toilet that can seat over 60,000? The Yale Bowl. And what do you call a group of long-time losers? The Bulldogs football team.

Yes, Yale possesses immense talent. There’s a reason that Murphy has said, on the record, that he has never faced a better Bulldogs squad. The Yale offensive and defensive lines crush opponents. The Crimson, meanwhile, has a depleted defense and a young bunch of guards.

I just can’t bring myself to pick the Bulldogs. Call me biased. Call me dumb. Call me Sam. All three labels apply. But at my core, I’m still a Harvard student.

For a full year, Steve Gleason and I have run the Sports section here. Mostly, we have subsumed our natural fandom. We’re on the way out.

Freshman quarterback Jake Smith is on his way in. On Saturday, I predict a breakout performance—three passing touchdowns and one rushing. The Crimson defense may concede 30 points, but the Harvard offense will fire back.

Let me return to my opening. Do you know what happened to the Titanic? Exactly. Gravity exists for a reason. The universe must bend towards some ultimate meaning, and that meaning is something that Confucius articulated long ago.

To quote those famous words: “Yuck Fale.”

PICK: Harvard 34, Yale 31

—Staff writer Sam Danello can be reached at sam.danello@thecrimson.com.

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