It’s only early October, but we have what must be considered a key Ivy League showdown as Harvard hosts Cornell Saturday, Oct. 7, with first place on the line. The Crimson and Big Red are both 1-0 in the League, having defeated defending co-champions Brown and Yale, respectively. The circuit’s other two 1-0 teams — Pennsylvania and Princeton — have non-League affairs this week.
Harvard has shown an offensive spark, tallying 109 points in the season’s first three games. That’s its highest output since scoring 129 points while opening the 1967 campaign at 3-0. The Crimson erupted for 42 points for the second straight week, defeating Lafayette, 42-19, in Easton last Saturday. Cornell, meanwhile, held a 10-7 halftime lead on nationally ranked Lehigh, before succumbing, 35-16.
Quarterback Neil Rose has turned in two straight outstanding performances. After throwing for a school-record 412 yards at Brown, the junior was responsible for five touchdowns — throwing for three and running for two — in the win over Lafayette. Rose’s 160.02 pass efficiency rating is second in the League (to Penn’s Gavin Hoffman’s 160.97) and seventh nationally. He’ll be challenged by a Cornell secondary allowing just 159.0 passing yards per game.
Sophomore tailback Nick Palazzo, who began the year fifth on the depth chart before injuries sidelined those in front of him, ran for a career-high 101 yards (and one TD) on 23 carries at Lafayette. Palazzo is being backed up by junior Danny Miree, who until two weeks ago was the team’s backup strong saftey.
On defense, the Crimson has stiffened up against the run, allowing only 26 yards on 25 Lafayette attempts after permitting 383 rushing yards in the opening two games. Harvard also collected its first two interceptions of the fall when defensive backs Andy Fried ’02 and Niall Murphy ’03 grabbed second-half picks at Lafayette. Freshman linebacker Dante Balestracci leads the team with 28 tackles.
This is the 65th meeting in a series that dates back to 1890. The Crimson leads the all-time rivalry, 32-30-2, and has captured two of the last three contests.