2017 Harvard Football Preview

Harvard is one of the most storied programs in any level of college football.

Founded in 1873, the school will field one of the oldest football teams in the country in 2017, and none of its alumni will let you hear the end of it if you get within talking distance.

The Crimson have the 10th-most all-time wins and second-most of any team at the FCS level, only behind dreaded rival Yale. Harvard has won at least a share of the Ivy League title 17 times, just one off from Penn and Dartmouth, which each have 18.

2016 Harvard Football Season In Review

The Crimson had won at least a share of three straight Ivy League titles before last year. Harvard started league play strong, beating Brown and Cornell by double digits, and held on to win its next three conference games.

But the team lost out on the league crown after losses in its last two games against Penn and Yale. The setback against Yale was especially rough as it gave the Bulldogs their first win in 10 seasons against the Crimson.

Joe Viviano was the trigger man for the offense in 2016. He threw for over 2,000 yards and completed 60-plus percent of his passes to cap off a good career. He was a decent scrambler, too, rushing for the second-most yards on the team. The Crimson are certainly going to miss his contributions.

Hitting Anthony Firkser in the flat or the seam was one of Viviano’s favorite things to do. Firkser led the team with 45 receptions and was its big-play threat last fall. He averaged 15.6 yards per reception and caught seven touchdowns.

The Crimson defense was the second-best in the conference, allowing opponents an average of just 21 points per game. No team scored more than 27 points against the unit.

The defense was also one of the more opportunistic units in the nation. Harvard picked off 11 passes and forced 17 fumbles, setting its offense up in good field position quite often. That led to some easy points for the Crimson.

2017 Harvard Football Season Preview

Replacing Viviano is the big question heading into this campaign. Tom Stewart and Cam Tripp both saw action last season, with Stewart getting the lion’s share of the snaps. He is the likely candidate to start the year, but Tripp will see action as well.

The running game almost has to be better than it was in 2016. Harvard averaged just 3.5 yards per run, and the only carry longer than 30 yards was on an end around by a wide receiver. Last year’s starter, Semar Smith, returns for his senior campaign and will be the go-to running back again.

Firsker is gone, but Justice Shelton-Mosley is back for the wide receiving corps. He led the team in receptions last fall and emerged as a good possession receiver when he was on the field. Adam Scott will provide a solid second option.

DJ Bailey made a name for himself in 2016. The sophomore defensive end registered seven sacks, nine tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Bailey and the three leading tacklers from last season’s squad return.

2017 Harvard Football Schedule

September 16: Harvard at Rhode Island
September 23: Harvard vs. Brown
September 30: Harvard at Georgetown
October 7: Harvard at Cornell
October 14: Harvard vs. Lafayette
October 21: Harvard vs. Princeton
October 28: Harvard vs. Dartmouth
November 4: Harvard at Columbia
November 11: Harvard vs. Penn
November 18: Harvard at Yale

FCS Pick ‘Em Games To Watch

The Ivy League schools start their seasons later than anyone in college football and refuse to play in the postseason, too. The reason behind this is obvious (academics) given the prestige of the schools, but you have to wonder how one of these teams would do in the FCS playoffs.

No postseason showcase means that the most important game for Harvard comes on the third Saturday of November every year. “The Game” pits Harvard against Yale, one of the longest rivalries in college football. The Crimson will be out for blood after what happened last year and should be your play in FCS Pick ‘Em Contests.

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