Impact of the quarterback.
The Bulldogs and the Big Green rely heavily on their passing games. In last Saturday’s loss to Lafayette, Yale passed for 214 of its 272 total offensive yards; similarly, Dartmouth ended the game with 204 passing yards out of 275 total yards in its loss to Penn last week. Since neither team has yet to post strong rushing numbers this season, passing will be key in Saturday’s game.
The team whose quarterback steps up and makes the big plays will leave the Yale Bowl with the win. Senior Dartmouth quarterback Alex Jenny has improved his passing yards with each game this season. His totals went from 147 in the season opener against Colgate, to 166 against New Hampshire, and reached 204 in last Saturday’s loss against the Quakers. Jenny’s performance on Saturday will dictate the strength of Dartmouth’s whole offense. With five touchdown passes to go and a per game average of 172 yards, Jenny’s role should not be underestimated.
Despite their overwhelming loss to Lafayette, the Bulldogs saw some good things on Saturday from then-backup quarterback Brook Hart ’11. Splitting time with starter Patrick Witt ’12, Hart completed 13 of 17 passes for 154 yards, including going eight for nine in the final eight minutes. If Hart, who will be starting on Saturday for the first time this season, is able to produce similar numbers for the complete game, without multiple turnovers, Yale should beat Dartmouth.
Defense must deliver
The Big Green, riding a 15-game losing streak, have allowed at least 30 points in each of their first three games this season. As this statistic suggests, Dartmouth has a relatively weak defense, which should mean that Yale will score points.
The Bulldogs’ defense struggled last week, giving up 24 first downs and 396 total yards to the Leopards. Simply, the Bulldogs cannot allow this to happen again. The Big Green are 24-1-1 against the Bulldogs when scoring at least 20 points — but Darmouth has not topped the Elis since 2002.
Yale’s offense should expect to score considering their opponents’ weak defense — Dartmouth is ranked 118th out of 118 teams in the FCS in rushing defense — but Yale must not allow Dartmouth to make it a high scoring game on both sides. If the Bulldogs limit the Big Green to two touchdowns, Yale should win.
Don’t look back
“Make the present good, and the past will take care of itself,” Hall of Fame coach Knute Rockne once said.
The Bulldogs started the season strong with a 31–10 victory over Georgetown but have hit roadblocks the last two weeks with an overall 1–2 record. Nevertheless, spirits should not be dampened on the field or in the stands.
With a win on Saturday, the Bulldogs’ season would be rejuvenated. The Bulldogs would go back to .500 and, with two weeks to prepare for the next Ivy League game against Penn, there will be time to work out subtleties in the line-up.
Injured players, such as receiver Gio Christodoulou ’11, should be ready to get back in the rotation. Overall, a win against Dartmouth on Saturday is necessary in order to keep the Bulldogs’ hopes alive. And, seemingly, they are the overwhelming favorites this weekend.
The Bulldogs played the Big Green last season in Hanover and came away with a 34–7 win — the sixth consecutive Yale victory in the series. Dartmouth was hurt by its multiple turnovers, four of which resulted in Yale touchdowns. The Bulldogs held their opponents to just 38 rushing yards, and out-gained them in total offensive yards, 358 to 230.