For the first time since 1998, Yale and the University of Connecticut will resume their intrastate rivalry on Saturday as the Bulldogs travel to face the Huskies for the 50th time. 

The Bulldogs (2–2, 1–1 Ivy) enter Saturday’s battle coming off an overtime loss to the Dartmouth Big Green last Saturday. This weekend’s game will mark the Eli’s third consecutive road test as well as their third and final out-of-conference opponent. The Football Bowl Subdivision Independent Huskies (0–7), meanwhile, are off to their worst start since the 2013 season that saw them lose their first nine games. UConn lost their second game of the year to fellow Football Championship Subdivision foe Holy Cross (3–2, 0–0 Patriot). The Crusaders, who spoiled the Bulldogs’ season opener, notched their first win against an FBS opponent since 2002 with a 38–28 victory over the Huskies. UConn head coach Randy Edsall “stepped down” just days after that loss.

“This game is exciting for us on many levels,” Connecticut native and tight end Patrick Conte ’22 said. “It’s [one], another opportunity to showcase who we are as a team and [two], against an FBS school and I think that’s exciting for all of us. A lot of guys were recruited by FBS schools and chose this path for a specific reason.”

UConn’s athletic department is paying Yale a guaranteed sum of $285,000 to host the 50th rendition of the historic rivalry. Saturday’s game will mark only the second time that Yale will be the road team and the first time the Bulldogs will play at Rentschler Field. In both collegiate football and basketball, it is common for larger schools to pay mid-majors teams to play in a “buy game” that gives the larger school the chance to make money off tickets and capture what they hope will be a win, while also guaranteeing the smaller school’s athletic department revenue. The game also marks Yale’s first test against an FBS opponent since their 2014 victory over Army.

“We’ve made a lot of growth in four short weeks and now we face, arguably, the best team on our schedule,” Yale head coach Tony Reno said. “As an FCS team, what we’ll see in our opponent this weekend is big, strong, fast, physical play. They’re a full scholarship group of guys so we’re excited for the opportunity. … This is the biggest challenge we’ll have this year.”

UConn is coming off a 27–13 road loss to UMass, handing the Minutemen their first victory of the season. With the score knotted at ten entering the final quarter of play, the Huskies conceded a field goal to break the tie and trailed for the rest of the contest, losing 27–13. Steven Krajewski, UConn’s redshirt sophomore quarterback, finished the game with only 128 yards and two interceptions. Krajewski is the third Huskie quarterback to attempt a pass this season.

The Huskies offense leans heavily on first-year running back Nathan Carter. Carter averages 11.3 attempts a contest and has amassed 400 total yards throughout the season. In UConn’s last game, Carter had 20 carries for 136 yards.

On the defensive side, sophomore linebacker Jackson Mitchell leads the team with 72 total tackles, over 30 more than anyone else on the team. The unit as a whole has left a lot to be desired. The Huskies are eighth in the FBS for most points given up per game with 37.9 points, and second for most total with 265 points.

“I think it’s great for the state of Connecticut,” Yale Deputy Director of Athletics Ann-Marie Guglieri said. “I hear stories and I know Tony [Reno] hears tons more than I do about the UConn-Yale rivalry from years and years ago, so I think it was a great opportunity for the state. … Long term, I think it would be a great series to continue. There’s a lot that goes into football scheduling, you know, 10 to 15 years in advance so a lot of things will have to line up. I have a lot of respect for their athletic director, and so hopefully the conservations will continue.”

The game carries additional weight for some members of the Blue and White due to their connection to the state. On Tuesday, Reno was joined at his media availability by three Connecticut natives on the team: Conte, long snapper Nick Tibbets ’22 and cornerback Dathan Hickey ’23.

“It means a lot,” Hickey said. “I grew up going to UConn games with my dad, as a youth football league, with my dad’s friends. … It means so much being able to play against a team that I’ve watched since I was a little kid. Being able to now be on the field and play against that team — it means a lot.”

For Tibbets, the game carries additional weight because of his familial ties to the University. Both of his parents and his older brother are UConn alumni, but they will be rooting for the Bulldogs on Saturday.

Yale and UConn will kick off at 12 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16th in East Hartford.

Nader Granmayeh '23 is a former staff writer who covered football and softball for the Yale Daily News.
Jared Fel currently serves as a sports staff reporter covering football, baseball, and hockey for the Yale Daily News. Originally from Ossining, New York, he is a rising junior in Saybrook College majoring in Cognitive Science.