The Harvard Crimson travel to New Haven this weekend for the 136th playing of The Game on Saturday at noon. The Game will be aired on ESPNU, but you really don’t want to miss the last chance to see Rawlings, Shohfi and Klubnik play in the Bowl.
Harvard’s roster is stacked with talent thanks to bringing in the top-ranked recruiting classes year over year. Junior quarterback Jake Smith leads Harvard’s offense and has improved tremendously from his freshman season. Smith has thrown for an average of 223 yards per game with 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Coach Murphy commented earlier in the season that Smith was finally developing into the quarterback that they believed he could be when they recruited him. He’s very nimble in the pocket with a strong arm, but occasionally suffers from poor decision making. Senior wide receiver Cody Chrest is Smith’s favorite target with 612 receiving yards (15.3 yards per catch) and 4 touchdowns on the season. Senior wideout Jack Cook sat out last week with an injury, but plans to play this week versus the Bulldogs. Cook leads the team in touchdown receptions with 5 and averages 16.6 yards per catch. Junior BJ Watson is a former running back that converted to receiver this season. Watson might be the most explosive receiver of the corps and is difficult to tackle in the open field. Harvard always features a top-notch tight end in their offense and junior Ryan Reagan is no exception. Junior running back Devin Darrington is a fast and powerful back that breaks arm tackles with ease. Darrington was very difficult for the Bulldogs to contain a year ago and is infamous in Ivy League circles for his decision to run out of bounds against Dartmouth that proved to be the nail in the coffin for the Crimson in their upset bid. Freshman running back Aidan Borguet has had a stellar freshman season rushing for 376 yards and 3 touchdowns. The offensive line has opened huge holes for Darrington and Borguet in the running game and is above average in pass protection. Yale must control the line of scrimmage this week to emerge victorious.
Harvard’s defense has been the strength of the team all season. The Crimson defensive line was the only unit that dominated Dartmouth’s offensive line. Senior defensive lineman Brogan McPartland has racked up 33 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks over 9 games. Harvard may be without their talented sophomore defensive end Truman Jones who suffered an injury weeks ago, although Nasir Darnell, Jacob Sykes and Anthony Nelson are all powerful defensive linemen that can keep Harvard’s defense from missing a beat. Harvard’s corps of linebackers is experienced and deep. Senior linebacker Cameron Kline and junior linebacker Jordan Hill each have 49 tackles on the season. Senior linebacker Joey Goodman is another defender to keep an eye on with 35 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, half a sack and and an interception. Senior safety Cole Thompson leads the defense in total tackles with 51. Junior safety Max Jones is the top pass defender in the secondary with 3 interceptions and 7 pass breakups. Cornerback and captain Wesley Ogsbury was an All-Ivy selection a year ago who is a lockdown corner when healthy. Junior cornerback Isaiah Wingfield is coming off an impressive 10 tackle performance last week versus Penn.
Senior kicker Jake McIntyre is 8 of 14 on field goal attempts this season with a long of 42 yards. McIntyre has not missed a single extra point. Sophomore punter Jon Sot is averaging 42.5 yards per punt and has placed 6 punts inside the 20 yard line. BJ Watson is the top kick returner averaging 19.3 yards per return. Harvard has not found consistency at the punt returner position with 8 different players combining for just 3.1 yards per return on average.
The Bulldogs will have to stay focused and play their best game of the season this week to secure an Ivy League title. Winning the turnover battle, controlling the clock and eliminating mental mistakes in the secondary will be key in this clash.