Yale Athletics

The Yale football team (0–1, 0–0 Ivy) will look to begin its Ivy League season with a win on Saturday when the Cornell Big Red (1–0, 0–0 Ivy) visit the Yale Bowl.

After falling 49–24 to Holy Cross last Saturday, the Bulldogs will lean on their leadership and hard-nosed style of play to try to get in the win column for the first time in 2023.

“We’re very familiar with playing gritty football,” head coach Tony Reno said. “We’re kind of, as you say, gritty not pretty. We like the muck, that’s who we are. We like the muck and that’s how we play. That’s how we do things, we love adversity.”

Playing in “the muck” has proven successful for the Bulldogs before — they have excelled at running the ball with a deep lineup of running backs, and dual-threat quarterback Nolan Grooms ’24 is always ready to run the ball from the pocket 

In the season opener, the Bulldogs ran for 226 yards, led by Tre Peterson ’24, who carried the ball 17 times for 95 yards. Grooms also broke down the Holy Cross defense with a mix of planned and impromptu running plays, racking up 68 rushing yards in the process. 

“I think the thing that has made us so successful in the past is we’re able to be physical off the ball,” Grooms said. “We have big offensive linemen, both of our tackles are 6-foot-5 plus, 300 [pounds] plus. That is really across the board.” 

Cornell started their season on a different note, downing Lehigh 23–20 in their own season opener. The Big Red jumped to a 14–0 first quarter lead and then held off the Mountain Hawks to secure a 1–0 start to the season. 

The focus for the Yale defense will be stopping Cornell junior quarterback Jameson Wang. Wang led the Big Red past Lehigh last week with 297 yards passing and 85 yards rushing. The quarterback also threw for two touchdowns to cap off the strong showing. 

Team 150 will look to its leadership to help them down the Big Red, as captain Wande Owens ’24 settles into his role. 

“My job is really to help lead this team obviously, but also to develop other leaders,” Owens said. “Because it’s not just me leading a team. It’s the senior class, the junior class, even if there’s leaders in the freshman class. To bring everybody along to help us accomplish this common goal.”

This season’s schedule will feel familiar to many of the older players on the team, as Cornell has been the Bulldogs’ first Ivy League opponent every season since 2000.

Yale has won the past five matchups against the Big Red and will kickoff this season’s meeting at noon Saturday at the Yale Bowl.  

Spencer King is an Editor for the Sports desk. He has covered the Yale football and women's ice hockey teams. He has also previously covered the Yale men's lacrosse team and most things Bulldogs sports. Spencer is a junior in Davenport College and is majoring in Political Science.
Amelia Lower covers football, men's ice hockey and men's lacrosse. She is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College from Rye, New York, double-majoring in Spanish and the History of Science, Medicine and Public Health.