The past two seasons have been full of firsts for the Yale football team. The 2014 season saw the team’s first appearance on ESPN’s College GameDay and its first win against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since 1981. Last year included the team’s first Friday night Ivy League game and the first iteration of The Game to feature lights at the Yale Bowl.
As it turns out, the rule of three applies to football schedules, too. The 2016 season features the Yale Bowl’s first official night game.
The Bulldogs’ 10-game schedule, which opens at home on Sept. 17, includes three out-of-conference meetings with Patriot League opponents and concludes with five consecutive league contests.
“Our schedule, like everybody else’s in the league, is tough,” head coach Tony Reno said. “We play a tough Ivy League schedule and we hit two tough playoff teams in Colgate and Fordham. Lehigh is a very good Patriot League team as well. We have our work cut out for us, so we’re excited to get started and take this step by step.”
The Bulldogs defeated both Lehigh and defending Patriot League champion Colgate last year, but face a new challenger in Fordham, which has advanced to the last three FCS playoffs. The Lehigh and Colgate games will be carried on the ILDN as well as ONE World Sports TV in the first year of the latter’s partnership with the Ancient Eight. The Fordham game will be broadcast on the Patriot League Network.
Per usual, the Yale football season concludes with the 133rd playing of The Game, which takes places at Harvard on Nov. 19. CNBC will broadcast the action. Regardless of what takes place between now and November, one major storyline will be the recent dominance of the Crimson: Harvard, the three-time–defending Ivy League champion, has prevailed in the last nine contests against Yale, a record streak for either side in the historic series.
“Harvard is the big one,” said Stephen Barmore ’18, one of the four quarterbacks currently competing for the starting spot on Yale’s team. “That’s a game we’re licking our chops for every year. We’re not worried about facing anybody in particular. As a team, we like to keep the focus on ourselves, so as long as we’re getting better, we’re happy.”
Two conference games — at Columbia and against Penn — take place on Friday nights. The Elis welcome the Quakers to the Bowl on Oct. 21 before travelling to New York City the following week to take on the Lions underneath the lights.
While Columbia installed permanent lights during the building of Lawrence A. Wien Stadium in the mid-1980s, the historic Yale Bowl has never had permanent light fixtures. Last year, in order to push back The Game’s kickoff time for television purposes, NBC Sports contracted Musco Lighting, an Iowa-based sports lighting company, to erect temporary lights for The Game.
NBC will again coordinate the lights, according to Ivy League Assistant Executive Director for Communications & Championships Trevor Rutledge-Leverenz. Once the deal is finalized, NBC will send the bill to Lagardere Unlimited, the Ivy League’s TV consultants.
The “Friday night lights” feel of both the Penn and Columbia games will be captured on NBC Sports Network, which is carrying two of Yale’s five nationally televised games. Lehigh, Colgate and Harvard are the other three. Four games — at Cornell, against Dartmouth, at Brown and against Princeton — will be broadcast by the ILDN.
Yale is not the only Ancient Eight program to see an expanded television presence, however: The upcoming season will also feature an all-time-high 21 Ivy League football games broadcast nationally across five different networks, breaking last year’s record of 17 national games across three networks.