It is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving break, and that means at least one thing for a good number of Yalies — it is about time to put away seminar paper drafts and pack up the laundry for Harvard-Yale weekend and the first break of the academic year. Since it is an even-numbered year, many Yale students will be making the trek to Cambridge, magnanimously hauling the beer and the party north to the school with neither.

This year’s matchup, reflecting what seems to be a perpetual ranking competition between Yale and Harvard in more arenas than Harvard Stadium, will be a race for second place. The relatively young Bulldogs had dim hopes for the Ivy League title at the beginning of the year but have emerged with a winning season and better prospects in that great monolith of Ivy football: The Game.

Yale has won 64 of the 118 total Harvard-Yale football games that have been played since 1875. Harvard, on the other hand, has won a measly 46, including last year’s Game in New Haven. The last time the Elis headed to Harvard, they crushed the Cantabs in a last-minute recovery, 34-24.

This year’s team includes 19 members of the Class of 2003, who are playing their last collegiate game this Saturday. The Yale seniors are 2-1 against Harvard and have averaged 27 points in outscoring the Cantabs 81-80. Also on the roster is sophomore Robert Carr, who has already racked up more than 1,000 yards this fall, and will likely break into the top 10 for kickoff return yards in a season this weekend. And if the past few weeks are any indication, the team stands a good chance of a last-minute encore with quarterback Jeff Mroz ’05.

Meanwhile, those who will be in the stands promptly at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday — or those who will linger wistfully in the parking lot across the street — are beginning to scrape together the $15 cash needed to buy tickets this year. The price for guest passes has risen $4 this year to a whopping $29 since Harvard students will be getting in for free this year.

Well, at least Yalies won’t be forced to sit by class.

Harvard this year has banned kegs from its houses, logically anticipating the potential hazards that come with mixing Harvard students and fun. Those new to the weekend should anticipate not only U-Hauls and a sea of nostalgic alumni, but also a shortage of beer and an abundance of flask-toting Elis at this year’s tailgate.

In addition to purchasing tickets and stocking up on refreshments, there might be the added worry of finding transportation this year, since the Yale College Council has declared it will leave the task of Game carpooling to the residential colleges, with much higher activities budgets and a better ability to subsidize transportation. Now there will be coach instead of school buses, and hopefully enough seats for everyone.

So once again, the big weekend is rapidly approaching, and Yale is gearing up for the long haul to Harvard for Game Number 119. Anticipate long lines for the handle of grain, a long night on your high school honor society friend’s floor, and, of course, a long-overdue victory for the resilient Old Blue.