Saturday marks the 135th iteration of the Yale-Harvard football game, and while it will be the first time The Game is played at Fenway Park, it will not be the first time the two rivals have faced off in a baseball stadium. In fact, it won’t even be the first time that the Bulldogs and Crimson face off on a baseball field in Boston! The third and fifth matchups of The Game in 1878 and 1880, respectively, were played at the National Baseball Ground in Boston while The Game’s eighth and 11th matchups in 1883 and 1887 took place at New York City’s historic Polo Grounds. Overall, in the 134-year history of their rivalry, Yale and Harvard have played football in 10 different stadiums, with Saturday’s tilt at Fenway Park marking the first matchup played somewhere other than Harvard Stadium or the Yale Bowl since 1914.
The Elis enter Saturday’s contest having won the last two rounds of The Game, an impressive feat considering that, prior to 2016, Harvard had won nine straight games as well as 14 out of the previous 15. In fact, 2018 will be the first time since 2000 that Yale enters the game with a winning streak over Harvard. While the last two decades may favor the Crimson, Yale has the historical edge in the series with 67 wins, 59 losses and eight ties. In fact, if we look at Yale’s cumulative winning percentage against Harvard in each year since 1875, Yale has only trailed the season series once, after losing the first playing of The Game in 1875. After winning the next year to even the all-time series at one game apiece, Yale took a 2–1 series lead in 1887, a lead it has yet to relinquish. Next time Crimson fans try to remind Bulldog fans of recent history, kindly remind them who has statistically been the better school since 1887.
Both Yale and Harvard enter The Game at 3–3 in Ivy League play. Since 1956 — the earliest data available on the number of conference wins entering The Game — Yale has averaged 3.6 Ivy wins prior to the last game of the season compared to Harvard’s 3.8. While the Elis have entered the annual Harvard game with three conference wins 14 times in the past, Game 135 will be only the second time in history, and the first since 1971, that both schools enter the game with 3–3 records against Ancient Eight foes. Having analyzed 134 years of Yale-Harvard history, it’s safe to say that Saturday’s tilt is shaping up to be the closest game on paper in several years.
Luke Benz | firstname.lastname@example.org