No. 23/24-ranked Harvard returns to Harvard Stadium Saturday afternoon for a highly-anticipated Ivy League tilt against Cornell and its high-powered offense led by reigning Offensive Player of the Year quarterback Jeff Mathews.
The game pits the Ivy League's top two offensive teams against one another as Harvard comes in averaging 486 yards per game with Cornell close behind at 454.
Harvard allows just 56 rushing yards per game and has a league-best 13 sacks through three games while Cornell leads the league with 376 passing yards per game.
- Download Complete Game Notes (PDF)
- Video: Harvard-Holy Cross Highlights (YouTube)
- Harvard's Tim Murphy at the Weekly New England Football Writers' Luncheon (YouTube)
Harvard has been extremely balanced on offense this year averaging over 200 yards per game on the ground and 285 through the air. Cornell meanwhile is almost exclusively through the air with a league-worst 78 yards per game via the run.
Saturday's game will be the 77th meeting on the gridiron between Harvard and Cornell since 1890, and the Crimson holds a 42-32-2 series lead.
The Crimson owned the early series, capturing the first 10 games (1890-1913), while Cornell won 11 straight from 1986-1996.
Harvard has turned the tables in the series once again, having won 10 of the last 11 contests while averaging 34.3 points in those 10 wins compared to 16.6 for Cornell. Harvard has scored at least 31 points in five of the last six years against the Big Red with a 28-10 win in 2009 in Ithaca, N.Y. being the lone exception.
Last Year's Meeting
Colton Chapple threw for 414 yards and four touchdowns as the Crimson overpowered Cornell 41-31 in Ithaca, N.Y.
Following a Ryan Houska run that gave Cornell a lead 24-20 midway through the third quarter, Chapple connected with receiver Alex Sarkisian on a 42-yard strike to take a 27-24 lead. Chapple then led Harvard on two consecutive scoring drives, throwing touchdown passes of 27 and 26 yards to put the game out of reach, 41-24.
All three of those scoring passes came during a seven-minute stretch dominated by Chapple and Harvard's defense, which allowed just 20 yards on 21 Cornell plays covering five offensive series for the Big Red.
Chapple recorded Harvard's first 400-yard passing game since 2003 in throwing for the second-highest single-game mark in school history. Sarkisian reaped the rewards, grabbing seven catches for 112 yards while Chris Lorditch had four receptions for 103 yards.
The Cornell offense moved the ball well as Jeff Matthews threw for 322 yards but the Big Red struggled on third down, converting 1-of-10 attempts under relentless pressure from Harvard's front line, which got to Matthews for four sacks and numerous QB hurries.
Although it surrendered 31 points and 322 passing yards to Cornell, Harvard's defense dominated the game when it mattered. The Crimson allowed just 20 yards on 21 plays covering five offensive series in the second half as Harvard erased a 24-20 deficit to claim a 41-24 lead over a pivotal 10-minute stretch of the game.
Harvard's Last Time Out
Colton Chapple threw four touchdown passes in Harvard's 49-point first half and the Crimson routed Holy Cross 52-3 last Friday night.
Chapple was 13 of 18 for 260 yards for the Crimson while adding a rushing touchdown. He opened the scoring with a 10-yard pass to Ricky Zorn, and also threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Brate in the first quarter. Harvard made it 21-3 late in the quarter on D.J. Moore's 23-yard return on a blocked punt.
Zorn had six catches for 99 yards, and Brate added four receptions for 69 yards. Treavor Scales led Harvard in rushing with 82 yards on 15 carries.
Cornell's Last Time Out
Jeff Mathews threw for 278 yards and ran for a touchdown in Cornell's 15-10 win over Bucknell.
Trailing 7-0, Mathews, who became just the third player for Cornell to surpass 6,000 career passing yards in the win, scored from 1 yard out to put the Big Red on the board.
Cornell failed to convert the ensuing two-point conversion but Boomer Olsen's 28-yard field goal with 18 seconds left in the second quarter gave the Big Red a 9-7 halftime lead.
Mathews completed 27 of 46 attempts, with Kurt Ondash hauling in seven for 118 yards.
The Big Red stretched its lead to 15-7 behind Silas Nacita's 24-yard run, his lone attempt of the game, and held Bucknell (1-3) to just a field goal in the second half.
Current winning streaks in Division I football:
1. Harvard - 12
TCU - 12
3. North Dakota State - 9
Alabama - 9
South Carolina - 9
6. Oregon - 8
West Virginia - 8
8. Florida State - 7
9. 3 tied with 6
Harvard's 10 game Ivy League winning streak is the second-longest such streak in the nation behind Lehigh's 15-game win streak in the Patriot League.
Harvard Coach Tim Murphy
In his 19th season as Harvard's all-time winningest head coach, Tim Murphy enters Saturday's game with a 123-59 record with the Crimson and a 155-104-1 overall head coaching record, which includes five years at Cincinnati and two years at Maine. Murphy is one of just five coaches to win 100 games since the formation of the Ivy League in 1954. Murphy has led Harvard to six Ivy League championships (1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2011). Murphy serves as president for the American Football Coaches Association this season. He is He is 12-6 all-time against Cornell.
Cornell Coach Kent Austin
Kent Austin, who spent five years in the Canadian Football League and two years as offensive coordinator at the University of Mississippi, was named Cornell's head coach on Jan. 27, 2010. Prior to his time in Oxford, Austin spent 15 seasons in the CFL as a player, assistant coach and head coach, winning Grey Cup titles at each step. In his only season as head coach, Austin directed the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a Grey Cup title in 2007 and earned CFL Coach of the Year honors. Austin was a four-year letter winner at Mississippi, graduating with a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1985. He is 0-2 against Harvard.
Harvard In The National Statistics
Category Rank Number
Rushing Offense 26 200.7
Passing Offense 12 285.3
Passing Efficiency 5 165.9
Total Offense 4 486.0
Scoring Offense 5 41.7
Rushing Defense 2 59.7
Pass Efficiency Defense 42 119.7
Total Defense 31 324.7
Scoring Defense 12 15.7
Net Punting 70 33.6
Kickoff Returns 86 18.4
Punt Returns 85 5.8
Turnover Margin 48 .33
Sacks 1 4.7
Tackles for a Loss 34 6.7
Sacks Allowed 47 1.7
Individuals In The National Statistics
Category Rank Name (stat)
Passes Defended 7 Norman Hayes (5)
Rushing 8 Treavor Scales (130.3)
Pass Efficiency 3 Colton Chapple (171.2)
Total Offense 9 Colton Chapple (298.3)
Punting 11 Jacob Dombrowski (43.4)
Scoring 2 Treavor Scales (12.0)
All-Purpose Yards 13 Treavor Scales (157.7)
Sacks 1 Zach Hodges (1.3)
5 John Lyon (1.0)
Tackles for a Loss 2 Zach Hodges (2.0)