1. Stop the Big Plays
The Big Red is perennially a mid-to-lower-tier Ivy League team that has trouble beating the Bulldogs at the Yale Bowl; the last time Cornell won at Yale was in 1996. Nevertheless, the Big Red should be considered dangerous given their convincing win last week over Bucknell, 33-9. The Big Red’s success in the game came from multiple big plays, including two long touchdown passes and one impressive run. Additionally, three of Cornell’s receivers had 30+ yard plays. It is imperative for the Bulldogs to tighten up their pass defense, an area that was relatively weak in last week’s win against Georgetown. Yale allowed the Hoyas to pass for 332 yards, resulting in Georgetown beating Yale in total offensive yards by 52. The Bulldogs will be in serious trouble if they allow Cornell, traditionally considered a stronger passing team than Georgetown, to have such offensive liberties.
2. Pressure Ganter
Big Red quarterback Ben Ganter completed 17 of 25 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns against Bucknell. His consistency in the pocket has translated into a turnover-free Cornell offense so far this season after 59 plays. Ganter has shown that he can make the big play; Yale should look to shut him down early and leave him little time to throw the ball.
3. Home-field advantage
The Bulldogs should capitalize on having home-field advantage this Saturday. Playing at home is always beneficial, but it is even more so since Saturday is the Ivy League season opener. The Yale Bowl will be filled to capacity with friendly fans and the Bulldogs know the field and its conditions well; this may make the difference Saturday.
4. Build on last week’s strengths
If the Bulldogs can carry their strengths from last week’s victory into Saturday’s Ivy League opener it will be difficult for the Big Red to cause too much trouble on the field. Defensively, Yale held Georgetown to only 23 rushing yards. If the Bulldogs are able to stop Cornell’s running game Saturday, the pressure will be on the Big Red to pass the ball. As long as it isn’t allowed to make any big plays (see point one), the Cornell offense will be effectively thwarted. Offensively, Yale didn’t have trouble scoring the ball: quarterback Patrick Witt ’12 was able to find his receivers, converting 22 out of 27 passes for a total of 216 yards and two touchdown passes. Kicker Tom Mante ’10 did his part by scoring a heroic 50-yard field goal and averaging 42.8 yards per punt. Likewise, running back Jordan Farrell ’10 played well in his first game back from injury, averaging 5.4 yards per carry and scoring two touchdowns. Look for these players to put up strong numbers on the game sheet if the Bulldogs want to win Saturday.
In the 2008 Ivy League opener, Cornell upset Yale in a 17-14 close contest. The Big Red came out strong and had a commanding 14-0 lead by halftime after producing two rushing touchdowns. Yale’s comeback effort was impressive: Gio Christodoulou ’11 scored on a 71-yard punt return and quarterback Ryan Fodor ’09 connected with Jarrett Drake ’09 for a seven-yard touchdown pass, bringing the Elis within three points in the dying minutes of the game. Unfortunately, Cornell recovered its own onside kick and ran out the clock, handing Yale an 0-1 start to the season. The Cornell victory broke Yale’s three game winning streak in the overall series.