On Oct. 5, 2013, the football team will pack onto a plane and take only its third trip in 137 years to California.
In 2011, after considering five West Coast programs to compete against in 2013, Yale decided to schedule California Polytechnic State University, or Cal Poly, for its one game out of the Eastern time zone. The game will be one of the earlier games of the season for the Bulldogs and will provide tough competition, a supportive atmosphere, a chance for recruiting and, to top it off, just plain fun.
“It was one of the things Coach Reno made me aware of when I was being recruited,” quarterback Logan Scott ’16 said. “It’s really good competition out in California.”
As a Woodland Hills, Calif. native, Scott played high school playoff games in Cal Poly’s stadium both his junior and senior year.
The Mustangs have gone 8–2 this season and have started the season with a seven-game winning streak that earned them a No. 19 national ranking in the NCAA FCS Division.
“Seeing strong out-of-league games always makes us better,” said defensive end Beau Palin ’14, who is also from California.
But playing a game in California is more than just one season’s worth of preparation for the Bulldogs — it is preparation for the future. Twenty-two of Yale’s 94 rostered football players are Californians. With that much talent coming from the Golden State, Yale is hoping to create more of a presence among Californian athletes, many of whom generally look to play for local schools as opposed to in the Ivy League.
More importantly, if Yale wants the edge over Harvard, it cannot let the Crimson have a larger presence in the state. This year, Harvard beat San Diego in its first game of the season. San Diego is the same team Yale matched up against in its only other trips to California, splitting the two games — winning in 1999 and losing in 2005.
With so many players from southern California, Palin and Scott said the Bulldogs will not have trouble drawing a crowd.
“Hopefully, I’ll have tons of friends and family make it to the game,” Scott said.
Palin, whose father played quarterback for Stanford, also said he has family in the area.
While competition and support of fans on the road will help build Yale’s football program, the trip will also give the team one of the less obvious keys to a successful season: fun.
As the fall chill rolls into New Haven, the football team will be playing and preparing in summer weather.
“I’m really excited,” Palin said. “You spend time with your best friends, hang out and play a great football game. Plus, you get fed really well.”
Palin and Scott said they have enjoyed traveling with teammates on buses to games and think flying together across the country will be even more fun.
While the sunshine of San Luis Obispo may be an alluring thought, the Bulldogs have bigger things on their plate.
“I haven’t looked too far ahead,” Palin said. “I’m focused on The Game.”
The high in Cambridge is expected to be 48 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday.