If Harvard comes close to replicating its performance against Penn on Saturday, the Bulldogs will be facing a stiff challenge in the 128th edition of The Game.
Harvard routed the Quakers 37–20 in a contest that was expected to be closely contested by the two sides. Coming into the showdown only a game behind Harvard, Penn had the opportunity to pull even with the Crimson atop the Ivy League standings.
But Harvard ensured that would not happen with one of its most impressive performances the season.
Looking ahead to The Game next weekend, Yale will be facing a Harvard squad that makes few mistakes. Harvard’s game against Penn was decided by mistakes, very few of which were made by the Cantabs. Offensively, the Crimson has been one of the best teams in the Football Championship Subdivision this season. Against Penn, Harvard certainly did not look explosive but was by far the most efficient team on the field.
On several occasions, Harvard took advantage of Penn mistakes. Harvard turned three separate Penn turnovers into 17 points, a significant difference in a game that finished 37–20. Twice the Crimson covered up Penn fumbles and a Harvard cornerback returned a Penn interception for a touchdown to put away the game for the Cantabs.
Harvard made it clear it will punish Yale mistakes. This could be problematic next weekend as the Elis have played mistake-prone football at times this season.
For all the talent and discipline Harvard flashed against Penn on Saturday, it does have some soft spots. Harvard quarterback Collier Winters looked uncomfortable under pressure and occasionally held the ball too long in the pocket. If the Bulldogs can keep the rush coming at him, he is likely to take sacks rather than making risky passes downfield. Conversely, if he is given time to throw in the pocket he will find the open man.
Another area Yale should look to exploit is Harvard’s running tendencies. The Cantabs had a great deal of success on the ground against Penn but most of it came while running the ball outside. Both teams struggled to run the ball up the middle. If the Elis can keep Harvard from running the ball outside the tackles, they will have a better chance of shutting down a strong Harvard ground game.
The Game will kick off on Saturday at 12 p.m. For a more in depth analysis of Saturday’s action watch out for the Keys to the Game article in Thursday’s paper.