Friday, November 6, 2015

Challenging the Champs

A 1776 map of the Baker Field area

Harvard Crimson vs. Columbia Lions

November 7, 2015
Kickoff time: 1:00pm

: Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium, Baker Athletics Complex

Game Time Weather Forecast:
 62 degrees and cloudy

The Spread: Harvard is favored by 25 points

Jerry Recco and Sal Licata provide superior play-by-play and audio commentary on the Ivy League Digital Network
The Columbia Spectator will again be running a live blog during the game 

Leading Story Lines
1) Dominant Harvard
Columbia has played some very highly advertised teams this season, and for the most part the Lions have proven they can play them extremely well. But Harvard comes in with a 21 game winning streak and controls its own destiny to win a third straight and second straight untied Ivy title. Plus, the Crimson have made a point of humiliating Columbia regularly. The Lions haven't scored a point against Harvard since the 2011 game, and have been outscored 148-0 by the Crimson over their last three meetings. Since Columbia's last win over Harvard in 2003, none of the games between these two teams has been close.
2) Harvard Looking Ahead?
Sandwiched between a huge showdown against Dartmouth and a suddenly exciting match up against rising Penn, this game against Columbia has the classic ingredients of a trap game for Harvard. If the Crimson aren't really focused on this game, things could get interesting.
3) Redemption Saturday
Since laying an egg against Penn at Homecoming, the Lions have looked like a totally different team in the two games since. The team, and especially the defense, have to want to show the home fans their real faces even if it has to be against the best team in the league. 
And Now a Little History...
Every other year when Harvard comes to Wien Stadium, I look up at the hills across the water and think about what was most likely the first ever meeting of a Harvard and a Columbia man on this spot. 
According to David McCullough's excellent biography of Harvard grad John Adams, when Adams rode to New York City for George Washington's first inauguration he was met by Columbia grad John Jay just before he entered Manhattan at the north side of what is now called the Broadway Bridge. In other words, they rode together right by the future home of Columbia football. So in my opinion, every Harvard at Columbia football game serves to honor that friendly ride way back in 1789.

5 Columbia Players to Watch
-Junior LB Keith Brady #52. Brady could have easily been my MVP for the Yale game and he's making a great case to be Columbia's MVP for the entire season. If the Lions are going to keep the powerful Harvard offense in check, Brady will have to have a great game.
-Senior DT Niko Padilla #93. Padilla's hard work up front is a big reason why linebackers like Brady are racking up the great stats. But I think this game may be the day where Padilla does more than just draw double teams and he puts up some big numbers of his own.
-Senior RB Cameron Molina #31. Harvard has been beastly against the run this year, so not much is expected of Molina in this game. But if the Lion QB's spend a lot of time running the ball early, Molina may be in a good position to catch the Crimson off guard in the later stages of the game. And regardless of how well he runs the ball, Columbia may choose to test the Harvard defense with screen passes to Molina with some regularity.
-Sophomore WR Dylan Weldon #10. The Lions still haven't completed a deep ball all season, but they started to try last week against Yale and Weldon was the intended target. One of the best ways to get Harvard to ease up on its tough run defense will be to try some longer throws and Weldon just might snag one.
-Freshman PR Jacob Young #14. Will Young continue to be ordered to call for fair catches or will he get a chance to set up a return? Columbia may not see open field opportunities like they'll get on kickoff and punt returns, so the Lions may need to take what they can get here. 
5 Harvard Players to Watch
-Senior QB Scott Hosch #3. Of course you're always going to want to watch the opposing team's QB. But the key in this game will be watching how much Hosch runs the ball after he had a spotty start throwing the ball last week against Dartmouth. 
-Senior WR Seitu Smith #2. Smith is the product of the classic Harvard blueprint for success. EVERY Ivy heavily recruited him and everyone but Harvard basically promised him early playing time. But he chose the Crimson, waited his turn, and seems poised to have a few massive games in his final few weeks of his career. Plus with fellow starting WR Andrew Fischer out with an injury, Smith may get a lot more balls thrown his way.

-Junior LT Max Rich #79. Harvard has a huge offensive line and it will face perhaps it's #1 challenge of the season against Columbia's defensive line. Watch Rich and Hosch's blindside to see how well that O-line is doing. 

-Senior LB Jacob Lindsey #51. Lindsey is the defensive stats leader on the team and should be the guy asked to stop the Columbia short passes and the Lions QB's from running effectively/

-Senior LB Matt Koran #59. Whatever Lindsey doesn't do, Koran probably will.


oldlion said...

I remember a good 20 or so years ago when Penn had a two year win streak and we upset them. Mark DeRosa was the Penn QB as I recall. One of our CBs jumped a route on first and goal, came up with the interception, and the rest was history.

alawicius said...

Oldlion, I was at that game in '95. Yes, we stopped Penn's nation-leading 24-game win streak with our terrific running QB Mike Cavanaugh. He broke his leg the following week ending his career and hopes for a great season, but in '96 we went 8-2 with Marcellus Wiley at DE and Ray Tellier was Coach of the Year.

oldlion said...

I was also there. Mike Cavanaugh was a terrific player, and it was really a shame that he went down in the Princeton game. Anybody remember who made that key interception off DeRosa?

Jake said...

It was Joe Cormier

Jake said...

And current Associate Head Coach Mark Fabish caught a big TD pass from DeRosa earlier in the game.

alawicius said...

Jake, your memory for game details is admirable!

Chen1982 said...

You can't make as many mistakes as we did today and expect to beat Harvard. Special teams mistakes surrendered the difference between a respectable loss and a win. Punt fumble that led to H FG and punt return on us gives ten point. Our offense as we expected had two TDs in them. This could have been a shocking 16-14 win