Cameron Pollack / Sun File Photo

Cornell beat Harvard, 17-14, last season.

October 5, 2018

Gameday Guide: What to Know About Harvard

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Coming off its first win of 2018, a dominant triumph over Sacred Heart, Cornell will host Harvard this Saturday in each of the teams’ second Ivy League game of the season. After downing Crimson in upset fashion last year, the Red will hope to strengthen its Ivy title hopes by knocking off Harvard, once again, at Schoellkopf Field.

How to watch or listen:
Video on ESPN+ (subscription needed), radio in Ithaca on WHCU 97.7 FM/870 AM.

Series history:
Harvard leads the all time series, 47-33-2, and has dominated recently, winning 15 of the last 17 matchups. Cornell is seeking its first consecutive victories over Harvard since it knocked off the Crimson in 1999 and 2000. The teams first met in 1890.

Cornell last time out:
The Red downed Sacred Heart, 43-24, thanks to a dominant first half, strong running game and three game-changing takeaways. Senior running back Harold Coles had an 85-yard touchdown run and junior cornerback David Jones set the tone early with a first-quarter pick-six — his first of two in the half.

Harvard last time out:
The Crimson fell to 2-1 on the year with a 23-16 loss at No. 20 Rhode Island last weekend. The Rams earned a safety and scored a special teams touchdown to secure the victory. Harvard downed Brown two weeks ago for its lone win so far in Ivy play.

Scouting the Crimson:
Harvard’s defense is best in the country against the run, surrendering just 50 yards per game and 2.1 yards per carry. The Crimson also sports a balanced offensive attack, averaging 201.3 yards rushing and 210 yards passing per game. Sophomore quarterback Jake Smith leads the offense after an up-and-down freshman year. For the third straight week, the Red will be tasked with slowing down a high-flying running back: Aaron Shampklin leads the Ivy League in rushing with 112 yards per game, and all-Ivy back Charlie Booker is set to return from injury.

The Red will be without senior running back Chris Walker (#9, above) "long term."

Cameron Pollack / Sun File Photo

The Red will be without senior running back Chris Walker (#9, above) “long term.”

Cornell beats Harvard if:
… (stop us if you’ve heard this one before) it runs the ball effectively and can slow down the opponent’s ground game. Especially with multiple receiving weapons out with injury, the Red’s offense will continue to rely on Coles and an experienced offensive line. Controlling time of possession and sustaining drives is a good way to win any football game, but is an especially prudent strategy for a team not built to throw the ball 40 times a game. Defensively, Cornell has successfully slowed down high-quality running backs in two straight games, and will be faced with another strong running game on Saturday. Slowing down Harvard’s tailbacks on first and second down will prevent the Crimson from putting together drives and put the Cornell defense in position to earn takeaways on third down passing situations.

What they’re saying in Ithaca:
Archer on how Harvard has improved since last year: “They’re more aggressive defensively, I think they run to the ball better. I think [quarterback Jake Smith is] better. He’s not a freshman, so he’s certainly gotten better on his reads and decision making. I think their skill, it’s basically all the same kids, I think they’re a little bit better.”

Senior offensive lineman Henry Stillwell on the Crimson’s No. 1 rush defense: “The mantra of Harvard’s defense is kind of arrogance, where they like to just play base four downs, straight up. Kicking their butt and running all over them last year felt really good and I hope we can do it again this year.”

What they’re saying in Cambridge:
Harvard head coach Tim Murphy to The Crimson, on his team’s loss to Rhode Island: “There were two outstanding defenses out there. I thought our defense played heroically. Just got to make more plays offensively.”

Injury report:
Archer confirmed this week that junior tight end John Fitzgerald and junior wide receiver Davy Lizana — both of whom didn’t play last week — suffered season-ending leg injuries against Yale. The Red will also be without senior running back Chris Walker “long term.”

Harvard’s Booker, who hasn’t played yet in 2018, is expected to return from injury for Saturday’s game to bolster a deep Crimson running back corps, Archer said.

Sound smart:
Senior quarterback Dalton Banks is 196 yards away from 5,000 career passing yards.

Fun facts about the Crimson:
Harvard admitted its first female student in 1977. Cornell did so in 1870. Harvard quarterback Jake Smith is from Ithaca, … Michigan, the county seat of Gratiot County.