Ten games stand between the Yale football team and its 15th all-time Ivy title. In order to reach the Promised Land, the Bulldogs must follow the following four tenets:
TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS
If the Elis are going to live up to their expectations and contend for an Ivy League championship, they will need to avoid any upsets.
With only seven conference games, each matchup is of tremendous importance. Last season, Yale recorded victories over Columbia, Brown and Cornell, and it is vital that the Bulldogs win those games again this season.
Seven of the past 12 champions of the Ancient Eight have finished their conference slate unblemished, and with both Princeton and Harvard looking strong this season, Yale cannot afford to use its margin for error against lower-level teams.
CELEBRATE YALE BOWL HISTORY
The Sept. 27 game against Army figures to be one of the most hyped September home games in recent memory. As Yale’s first matchup against a Football Bowl Subdivision team since 1996, also against Army, the Black Knights represent perhaps the best opponent to grace the Yale Bowl in quite some time.
This year is also the 100th anniversary of the Yale Bowl, and the Bulldogs will be celebrating the centennial all the way until the all-era teams are recognized in the Nov. 15 game against Princeton. The program’s two Heisman Trophies, more than the other seven teams in the Ivy League combined, will be displayed outside every home game.
AVOID LOSING STREAKS
Following last year’s 24–10 victory over then-FCS No. 24 Cal Poly, the Blue and White were riding high. They stood 3–0, having conquered NFL prospect Jeff Mathews and his Cornell Big Red as well as a ranked team across the country in successive games.
But a road loss to Dartmouth quickly ended any hopes of an undefeated season, and losses to Fordham and Penn brought Yale down to 0.500. That losing streak erased all of the Bulldogs’ momentum and effectively wrecked all title hopes.
In order to get fans to buy in, and in order to remain in contention for the Ivy crown, it is essential that Reno’s bunch avoids any long losing skid.
Last season, Yale raced to a 5–3 start before falling face-first in its last two games, losing 59–23 to Princeton and 34–7 to Harvard. A year earlier, in head coach Tony Reno’s first campaign at the helm, the Bulldogs suffered a 29–7 drubbing at home against Princeton before running out of gas and losing a fourth quarter lead to Harvard in the following week. The games against Princeton and Harvard are traditionally the highest-profile matchups of the entire season for Yale, with near-sellout crowds filling the Yale Bowl for whichever contest is in New Haven each year. The road to the Ivy title runs through Harvard and Princeton, last year’s co-champions, and the Elis must split, if not sweep, those games in order to win their first Ancient Eight championship since 2006.