Focus on winning for selves, not playing spoiler to Harvard
NEW HAVEN >> This time of year is always an interesting one for members of the Yale football family.
This is the week the student body and the alumni care about the most.
There is no hiding from the hype that leads up to The Game.
Heck, there is even an intramural House competition between Yale and Harvard in soccer, volleyball, football and ultimate frisbee today before the varsity teams meet for the 132nd time Saturday (2:30 p.m., NBCSN).
Yale’s legendary coach Carm Cozza has often said he liked it better when the Bulldogs traveled to play at Harvard because there were less distractions.
Yale is no longer in the hunt for the Ivy League title. An injury-filled month of October helped produce three losses. The Bulldogs are 6-3 overall, 3-3 in the league.
Harvard’s 22-game win streak was snapped last week with a 35-25 loss to Penn. The Crimson (8-1 overall) are tied with Dartmouth and Penn for first in the Ivy League at 5-1.
Penn plays host to Cornell and Dartmouth plays host to Princeton Saturday.
A Yale win would deny Harvard from becoming the sixth team to win three straight titles. The others: Yale (1967-69), Dartmouth (1969-73), Yale (1979-81), Penn (1982-86) and Dartmouth (1990-92).
But that is not the motivation for this Yale team.
“I know I play for us,” Yale quarterback Morgan Roberts said. “I look forward to being able to celebrate in our locker room with my teammates rather than spoil Harvard’s chances.
“I know the student body feels 100 percent differently.,” Roberts said. “But for us, it does not cross our mind. We want to win and be able to celebrate with each other.”
Yale football coach Tony Reno, who was an assistant at both Harvard (2009-11) and Yale (2003-08) prior to being hired as head coach in 2012, understands the hype surrounding the rivalry, which began in 1875.
“These are arguably the top two universities in the world,” Reno said. “They compete in everything. Admissions, academics, athletics. I’ve been to hockey games, basketball games, baseball, track and field. They all have that high level of energy to them.
“There is the same energy and uniqueness as Michigan-Ohio State, Army-Navy, Florida-Florida State, Texas-Oklahoma. We are very fortunate to share in a similar rivalry."