March 06, 2009

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.: At Harvard Stadium on November 23, 1968, the Yale and Harvard football teams met in their annual The Game, with both teams going into the game undefeated for the first time since 1909. Heavily-favored Yale was ranked #16 and was on a 16-game winning streak. Yale was leading 29-13 with 3:34 to play and had the ball. What could possibly go wrong?

posted by kirkaracha to football at 07:51 PM - 4 comments

Harvard recovered a fumble on their 14, then scored a touchdown with a 2-point conversion, recovered an onside kick, scored another touchdown as the clock ran out, and scored another 2-point conversion. Footage of the game. Recap. What I learned at the Harvard-Yale Game [clearly not paragraphs].

Even though it ended in a tie, the Yale players took it as a devastating loss, and Harvard took it as a win. The Harvard Crimson's banner headline was "Harvard Beats Yale 29-29." Who came up with the headline?

Backup quarterback Frank Champi led the Harvard comeback. Tommy Lee Jones was a Harvard offensive guard (Al Gore was his roommate). Yale quarterback Brian Dowling inspired "B.D." in Doonesbury. Yale tailback Calvin Hill was the 1969 NFL Rookie of the Year, beating O.J. Simpson. Yale teammate Bob Levin dated Vassar undergraduate named Meryl Streep. James Fallows worked on the Harvard Crimson.

Kevin Rafferty, who directed Atomic Cafe, has a new documentary about the game. New York Times Q&A and NPR Fresh Air with Rafferty.

posted by kirkaracha at 07:52 PM on March 06, 2009

you may have set a record for the number of links in a single post.

posted by dviking at 09:21 PM on March 06, 2009

Wow ... great post. I'm still going over it all. That headline is a classic.

posted by rcade at 11:25 PM on March 06, 2009

Looking back at the footage, I'd forgotten how creative the offenses were, and how athletic the defenses looked, especially Harvard's. You can see that the players are way undersized compared to today's players, but they still look quick and well-coached.

The reason 1968 is a hard year to top for sheer historicability is because the tide of events was relentless and unending. The year just would not quit.

By the time this game was played, all the heavy shit that had been happening all year had supposedly been concluded - with the election of Nixon, no less.

Then they play this game the day after the 5th anniversary of the JFK killing and the universe shifts yet again.

When the classic Crimson headline came out, it trumped the lavish coverage that the NY Times had previously given The Game in its Sunday editions.

And while folks were trying to digest the outcome of this game, 1968 still wasn't done yet, because Apollo 8 was getting rolled out to the launch pad.

1968 wasn't truly done until the ball dropped at midnight on the 31st.

And even then it wasn't done. It spilled right over into 1969, starting with the epic USC-Ohio State Rose Bowl on Jan 1. In which USC (specifically OJ) fumbled the ball almost as often as Yale had against Harvard.

posted by beaverboard at 10:25 PM on March 07, 2009

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