With at least a share of the Ivy League championship guaranteed, the Yale football team will turn its attention to reaching two more milestones with a victory over Harvard in the 134th edition of The Game. The Bulldogs (8–1, 5–1 Ivy) will look to defeat the Crimson (5–4, 3–3) in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2000 and earn Yale’s first outright conference title since 1980. But for Team 145 to finish its 2017 campaign on a high note, the Elis will need to rely on their powerful run game, contain Justice Shelton-Mosley and be wary of trick plays.
Ride the Zane Train
Yale comes into The Game sporting the Ivy League’s top rushing attack. The Bulldogs rank 14th nationally in rushing, averaging 227.8 yards per game, while starting running back Zane Dudek ’21 is sixth among all ball-carriers in the Football Championship Subdivision with 1,069 yards and tied for second with 14 touchdowns. In seven conference games, Yale has averaged nearly 100 more rushing yards than its archrival from Cambridge. However, Harvard’s Charlie Booker is second in the Ivy League behind Dudek in rushing and scored on a 27-yard touchdown scamper in the Crimson’s 21–14 loss to the Elis last season. In the past six iterations of The Game, the team that rushed for more yards on offense has emerged victorious, so establishing the ground game early on will be a point of emphasis for both teams.
Deny Harvard Any Justice
The Elis must keep an eye on Harvard’s most dangerous offensive threat, Justice Shelton-Mosley, throughout Saturday’s affair. As a wide receiver and returner, Shelton-Mosley has accumulated 1,010 all-purpose yards through nine games and is a threat to score from anywhere on the field, at any point in the game. Although he has yet to find the end zone as a wide receiver, the unanimous 2016 All-Ivy first-team recipient has returned two punts for touchdowns this season. Punter Alex Galland ’19 must maintain his high-accuracy punting this weekend to keep the ball out of Shelton-Mosley’s hands as much as possible. In defensive sets, head coach Tony Reno will likely cover the Crimson spark plug with captain and top cornerback Spencer Rymiszewski ’18.
Beware of Trickery
A friendly exchange of hoaxes has found its way into the Harvard-Yale rivalry in recent years, with both Harvard and Yale students doing their part to enrich the game within The Game. But last year saw this trickery make its way out onto the field with an onside kick and fourth-down jump-pass from Yale. Team 145 must be sure to stay disciplined on every play to ensure that it does not fall victim to similar deception against Harvard. Not too long ago, Crimson head coach Tim Murphy called a reverse hand-off pass that went for a 40-yard score in Harvard’s 31–24 win over Yale in 2014. The Bulldogs were more recently exposed to several end-arounds and double reverses against an overmatched Brown squad in Week 8, but the Elis stayed at home to avoid giving up big plays. If Team 145 plans to walk away from the Yale Bowl with an outright championship, it must be prepared for whatever Murphy has up his sleeve this season.
Won Jung | firstname.lastname@example.org
Joey Kamm | email@example.com