We begin this Harvard/Yale week; also known as the 129 playing of “The Game,” with a dog.
He goes by the moniker of Handsome Dan. He is the Yale bulldog, a mascot that traces back to 1889. And is the first animal mascot in college football history.
The first dog was purchased by a local blacksmith, Andrew Graves for the sum of $5.
His taxidermied body remains on permanent display in the lobby of the Payne Whitney Gymnasium.
Legend has it, according to the Philadelphia press that; “Dan would bark ferociously, and work himself into physical contortions of rage, never before dreamed of by a dog once the command ‘Speak to Harvard’ was given.”
The present Dan and the one who will be in attendance at the Stadium Saturday is; XVII.
This weekend let’s see which teams perform handsomely, and which play so poorly, they are treated like dogs.
Yale at Harvard – The Game (NBCSN, Noon) Over the last decade, “The Game,” has been dominated by the Crimson.
Harvard has won 10 of the last 11, and is currently entertaining a five game winning streak.
This year the rivalry also carries an added intriguing twist.
Newly minted Yale Coach Tony Reno was hired from the Harvard staff last year, making him the first head coach in Bulldog history to go from H to Y.
He also took with him, several of Harvard’s assistants, which didn’t sit very well with Crimson Coach Tim Murphy.
The Johns are a balanced offensive juggernaut; fourth in the FCS, (40 points) in scoring, while passing for over 200 yards, and rushing for over 200 yards per contest.
These Sons of Joe Restic, are directed by senior dual-threat QB, Colton Chapple (22 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions), with assists from tailback Treavor Scales, and wideout Ricky Zorn.
The FCS’s 8th stingiest D (16 pts.) led by tackle Nnamdi Obukwelu and backer Joshua Boyd, stones runners, but struggles defending the pass.
All one needs to know about the Yale season, is that the “Elis,” due to injuries, are starting its fourth quarterback.
The Bulldogs are now directed, out of necessity, by recent wideout, Henry Forman.
That is the main reason that the Sons of Carm Cozza, are averaging a shocking “single wing” sized total of; 14 points a game.
The converted QB is assisted by tailback Mordecai Cargill, and when he makes a connection, wideout Cameron Sandquist is a primary target.
The 93rd ranked D featuring backer Ryan Falbo, and safety Collin Bibb, has almost as many issues, as General David Patreaus had late night visits, from his “biographer.”
With the added incentive mixed in, Harvard will take no prisoners, as the football fighting Cantabrigians extends it streak of domination to an even half-dozen.
No.14 Stanford at No.1 Oregon (Ch.5, 8 p.m.) After last week’s comeback victory, Stanford Coach David Shaw described, “Almost Shakespearean, to a certain degree.”
(Other than the Farm, and maybe Duke, Shakespeare’s name is seldom mentioned when referring to a football game!)
Unfortunately, it could be a Shakespearean Tragedy, when the Cardinal journey’s to Eugene.
The Smart Kids are directed by newly installed QB Kevin Hogan (6 touchdown passes – 2 interceptions), with assists from his 1000 yard senior tailback; Stepfan Taylor.
When the energizing commander goes aerial, All-America tight end Zach Ertz, and wideout Drew Terrell, are chain moving beacons of a pedestrian (29 pts) offense.
The nation’s 12th stingiest D (17 pts.) led by backers; Chase Thomas, Shayne Skov, and Trent Murphy, is tops stopping the run, but a bottom feeding 99th against the pass.
The Ducks, who lead the country in scoring (54 pts.) move swifter than a rat at Castle Island, or a group of Kenyans running the marathon.
In fact, these speed of light disciples, have outscored first half opponents by the jaw-dropping aggregate of: 348-90, effectively darkening the hopes of any challengers.
The Sons of Terry Baker are directed by freshman QB, Marcus Mariota (28 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions), who operates with surgical precision, while leading the nation in passing efficiency.
The Eugene dart thrower leans heavily on his Heisman contending tailback, Kenjon Barner, who has rumbled for over 1300 yards and 19 TDs, mostly, in first half duty.
Multi-purpose receiver De’Anthony Thomas, and wideout Bralon Addison, are the primary targets in the equally explosive passing attack.
The D, which has a lot of players in the Mash Unit, leads the nation (19) in interceptions. It is led by tackle Taylor Hart, and backer Michael Clay, and although not considered stellar, it is the best unit in the Kelly regime.
Every student at Stanford knows, there is no chance of slowing something, which moves at the speed of light.
There is no chance to catch the Ducks, who move, to paraphrase Mel Brooks at; “Ludicrous speed.”
No.6 Ohio State at Wisconsin (Ch. 5, 3:30 p.m.) The Buckeyes decision to accept its bowl ban this year, as opposed to last, has cost the Columbus Colossus millions.
In addition, the animosity over recruiting between Wiscy’s Coach, Bret Bielema, and Urban Meyer, makes the Ray Flynn – Tom Menino frost-a-thon, look like a love-in.
The Sons of Hopalong Cassady, are ignited by its Heisman contending QB, Braxton Miller (14 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions -13 rushing), who does his best work with his legs, over 1000 yards.
The leader of nation’s 8th best ground attack, is assisted by tailback Carlos Hyde, while wideouts Corey Brown, and Devin Smith, are favorite targets.
The D led by backer Ryan Shazier, and end John Simon, stone runners, but is ranked a woeful 97,defending against the pass.
The Badgers have already punched its ticket to the BIG Ten Championship game.
The Boys from Madison may have the best running tandem since the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.
The twosome of Montee Ball and James White, have rumbled for over 1800 yards and 24 TDs.
(Note: Ball needs two more touchdowns to eclipse the all-time NCAA record of 78.)
The QB duties have been given to senior Curt Phillips (1 touchdown pass – 0 interceptions), the third signal caller to start under center this season for the Badgers.
The country’s 12th stingiest D (17 pts.) led by backers Mike Taylor, and Chris Borland (hamstring) is solid in all phases.
It’s never easy to go against Wiscy in Mad-Town, but with a better coach, and more dynamic QB, we think the Buckeyes say; “Good-bye Columbus,” to the cheese heads.
No.21 USC at No.17 UCLA (FOX, 3 p.m.) The winner, in this battle for LA, punches its ticket into the inaugural Pac-12 title game.
Overall, it’s been a disappointing, and turmoil filled season, for the Men of Troy, who were once considered national championship timber.
But it seems, wherever Lane “Violation” Kiffin is, trouble follows closely.
The deflated footballs incident blamed on the team manager, is like Claude Rains being “shocked” that gambling was taking place at Ricks Café. Please!!
Next thing you tell me is that Jesse Jackson Jr., is a crook!!
It’s also been a disappointing season for QB Matt Barkely (33 touchdown passes – 13 interceptions), who was the preseason Heisman front runner.
The Golden Boy has the luxury of focusing on a pair of future Sunday performers; the best wideout pairing in America; All-America Marquise Lee and Robert Woods.
These glue fingered whippets, are open more than Store 24, and have combined for an eye-popping 159 receptions, and 23 touchdowns.
The ground attack is also top shelf, featuring Penn State transfer Silas Redd, and his backfield mate Curtis McNeal, who have combined for over1200 punishing yards.
But the real Trojan Horse has been the USC defense.
This crew, led by sack master Morgan Breslin (9.5), and backer Dion Bailey have displayed more holes than a Big Dig tunnel.
UCLA football is once again relevant in the City of Angels.
The man responsible for that turnaround, is newly minted Coach Jim Mora, who has brought discipline and, more importantly, an infusion of enthusiasm onto the Westwood campus.
The Bruins are led by its future, r-shirt freshman QB Brett Hundley (24 touchdown passes – 9 interceptions), whose is as cool as Steve McQueen on a motorcycle.
The kid leans heavily on the nation’s 6th best runner Jonathan Franklin, and wideout Shaquelle Evans and Prudential-sized (6-7, 258) tight end Joseph Fauria to move the chains.
The D featuring backers Anthony Barr (11 sacks), and Eric Kendricks ranks 75th overall, and a dismal103rd defending the pass, the wrong recipe against USC.
UCLA is improving, but we think, in a close game, that the Trojan Horse remains more battle tested, and ultimately forces the Bruins surrender.
No. 25 Kent State at Bowling Green (ESPN3, Noon) The Golden Flashers have been golden.
Kent State, riding an eight game winning streak, is playing its biggest football game, since Richard Nixon was calling plays for George Allen’s Redskins; 1972.
(Note the irony of Kent State with Nixon – “Four Dead in Ohio.”)
A Kent victory clinches the MAC East title, propels them into the MAC Championship Game, and guarantees a bowl invite for the first time in four decades.
The nation’s 15th best ground attack features a bull and hare combo; Trayion Durham, and Dri Archer, who have scampered for over 2000 yards and 25 TDs.
Archer is one of the country’s most dynamic players; leading the nation in kickoff returns – 40 yards – and is sixth in scoring, averaging 11 points a game.
The supervisor of these yardage churners is QB Spencer Keith (9 touchdown passes – 5 interceptions), who utilizes Archer, and Josh Boyle for his aerial attacks.
The D, behind tackle Roosevelt Nix, and backer Luke Batton, is about as stout as the head of a badly poured Guinness.
The Falcons are flying, having won 6 straight, and with a victory, will be in control of its own destiny.
But unlike the Flashers, Bowling Green strength is suffocating defense, deadlier than a rap concert at the Strand Theatre.
The country’s sixth ranked D, and 9th stingiest (15 pts.), is led by its sack maestro tackle Chris Jones (11.5), who has also rung-up 17 tackles for losses.
The offense commanded by QB Matt Schilz (10 touchdown passes – 6 interceptions), tailback Anthon Samuel, and receiver Chris Gallon, does just enough (23 pts.)to give its D a breather.
We think the curse of Milhous catches up with the Flashers, as the Falcons of Bowling Green, in a close one, finds a way to win.
(Don’t be surprised if both of these coaches; Kent State’s Darrell Hazell, and BG’s Dave Clawson, get interviewed for the BC job.)
Last week: 4-1 Season record: 40-15
Be sure to read our recap which will be up and running Sunday at noon, until then Peace, and listen to the music. PK