The Ivy League began as a football league and yesterday marked perhaps the greatest game in Ivy League football in decades. Undefeated #15-ranked Harvard University (6-0 overall, 3-0 in Ivy League action, and last year’s Ivy League champ) faced undefeated #22-ranked Dartmouth College (also 6-0 overall, 3-0 in Ivy League action, and last year’s Ivy League runner-up). We challenge our readers to think of a time when such highly ranked Ivy League foes faced off. Our readers must still be thinking. The winner of the game would control their own destiny as both teams hoped to claim the Ivy League crown. And the contest surely did not disappoint.
But, first, let’s set the stage with some history. If you’re curious which Ivy League college has the most Ivy League titles, the answer may be a surprising one to you. Dartmouth College has more Ivy League titles than any of its competitors since they started recording these things in 1956 (if anyone has data prior to 1956, we’d be happy to verify it if you send it our way and we’ll then update our statistics accordingly). Since 1956, Dartmouth College owns 17 Ivy League crowns. Its closest competitors? The University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University, each with 16. So with a title this year, Harvard would tie Dartmouth in titles. Yale University owns 14, Princeton University owns 9, Brown University owns 5, and Cornell University owns 4. Columbia University owns 0. But our regular readers know that Columbia University has bragging rights to the 1934 Rose Bowl title, thanks to the glorious play of Rose Bowl MVP, American hero, and our dear friend Cliff Montgomery.
For nearly the entire game, Dartmouth College, a team that sets the national standard for safety in football by practicing with robots (yes, robots), remained in control of the game. In fact, the Big Green took a 13-0 lead into the 4th quarter. And the Big Green withstood a mighty goal line stand. But this one would end in heartbreak for Dartmouth College. As reported in an article about the Harvard-Dartmouth game in “The Crimson,” “For the majority of four quarters, the Crimson found itself in the unfamiliar position of playing from behind. With 3:43 remaining in regulation, it seemed that a 20-game win streak—and a shot at the Ivy League title—was on the verge of snapping. Clinging to a six-point lead at Harvard Stadium, the Big Green offense took over with a short field after Crimson coach Tim Murphy elected to punt following a three-and-out. But on an option play from Dartmouth quarterback Dalyn Williams to running back Ryder Stone, senior linebacker Jake Lindsey hit the ball-carrier in the backfield. The pigskin popped loose, and Harvard captain Matt Koran fell on top of it.”
“Suddenly, the Crimson had possession, two timeouts, and nearly three minutes to move down half a football field…On the 11th play of the drive, Hosch fired a five-yard bullet with just 38 seconds remaining to the youngest player on the offense, rookie receiver Justice Shelton-Mosley. For the first time, Harvard held the lead. The remaining 38 seconds proved to be enough for the Big Green to march down the field and set up a 46-yard field goal attempt with a second remaining, but the momentum was full-swing Harvard. Sophomore defensive lineman Stone Hart got his left hand on kicker Alex Gakenheimer’s attempt, and the win streak remained alive.”
Both teams should indeed be quite proud of how they played.