There promises to be a high-pitched battle today in Harvard Stadium, as Harvard (4-3 overall, 2-2 Ivy) hosts Brown (4-3, 1-3) in its eighth game of the season.
Harvard looks for a win here to ensure that it will end the campaign at or above the .500 mark for the first time in four years and stay in contention for the Ivy League championships.
The game, if history is any indicator, will be a high-scoring one. Harvard has the Ivy League's top-ranked offense, at almost 400 yards per game.
Brown's offense is also a potent one, characteristically strong. Last year, Brown had averaged a monstrous 50.5 points and 557.6 yards per game.
Both teams also have rookie coaches. Brown's coach is Mark Whipple, a Brown alumnus and starting quarterback in 1977-78. He was also a member of Brown's only Ivy League championship team--in 1976.
Whipple is considered to be one of the nation's top offensive strategists. He comes to Providence after coaching the University of New Haven for six straight years, leaving them with a 38-17 record and two NCAA playoff berths.
The Bears' strength is their offense; the defense has been full of holes this year, however. Opponents so far have been able to push Brown's defense around, averaging 19.9 points and over 300 yards per contest.
At the heart of the Brown offense is sophomore quarterback Jason McCullough. The Bear tailbacks are sophomore Marquis Jessie (coming off a recent injury) and junior Paul Fichiera. The receiving corps is led by record-breaking senior Charlie Buckley.
"We've got to focus on fundamentals," Harvard senior defensive lineman Doug Anderson says. "We've got to prevent the big plays. This has hurt us in past games and is something we have to do to win."
Harvard Coach Tim Murphy, though in his first year here, is by no means inexperienced. Murphy left the University of Cincinnati head coaching job, a position he held for six years, to join the Crimson this season.
Before his six years in Cincinnati, Murphy was the head coach at the University of Maine, where he lead the Bearcats to an 8-4 record and their first-ever playoff berth in his first year there.
The basis of Harvard's success this year is its potent offense. Harvard's attack is a multi-dimensional one, with the Crimson averaging over 200 yards per game in the air and over 120 on the ground.
"Our offense is definitely our strength," Anderson says, "especially our ball control. When we control the ball, we win games."
The stellar Crimson offense revolves around junior quarterback Vin Ferrara. Ferrara just this week won the Triple Crown of awards for the second time, roping in Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week, New England Coca-Cola Award Winner and ECAC 1-AA Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Dartmouth.
Another huge contributor to Harvard's number-one offense is sophomore running back Eion Hu, who has three consecutive 100-yard games. Last week, Hu won the Ivy League Rookie of the Week award for the fourth time.