Princeton vs. Harvard Odds, Picks, Predictions: Bet the Tigers in Friday FCS Showdown
Via G Fiume/Getty Images. Pictured: Dylan Classi #7 of the Princeton Tigers runs with the ball against the Brown Bears at Brown Stadium on October 16, 2021 in Providence, Rhode Island.
- The Princeton Tigers take on the Harvard Crimson in a Friday night Ivy League FCS showdown.
- The Tigers enter as short favorites, and our betting expert feels confident they can cover this -1.5 number.
- Check out Keg's full betting preview and pick for Princeton vs. Harvard below.
Princeton vs. Harvard Odds
-109o / -112u
-109o / -112u
The top of the Ivy League standings is crowded. Four teams are currently 2-0 in conference play, with two of those being 5-0 on the season while the other two sit at 4-1.
But it won't be crowded for long as all four teams are set to square off this weekend. Dispersing the crowd begins on Friday night as the 23rd-ranked Princeton Tigers travel to take on their historic rival, the Harvard Crimson.
Harvard plays host on Friday night at 4-1 on the season, with its lone loss coming against Holy Cross. Last week, the Crimson started slow against Howard, going into half tied at 17. But Harvard dominated in the second half, winning the game, 41-25, while defensive back James Herring earned Ivy League Special Teams Player of the Week honors.
Princeton earned some weekly honors of its own as wide receiver Dylan Classi was named Offensive Player of the Reek, and Ryan Butler was named Rookie of the Week for the third time this season. The Tigers are 5-0 and well-positioned to repeat as Ivy League champions for the first time in more than 60 years.
Friday night's game will be the first at Harvard since 2018. However, the Crimson have not won in the series since 2016. Princeton leads the all-time series that dates all the way back to 1877, 58-48.
Last year's matchup was one of the best in recent memory as Princeton edged out an 18-16 win after five overtimes.
The Tigers have not won more than four in a row in the series since 1951. Can they extend their streak while firmly positioning themselves atop the Ivy League standings Friday night?
The Tigers lead the Ivy League in defensive scoring, holding opponents to just 11.6 points per game.
Harvard will present their biggest challenge yet though, as the Crimson lead the conference in scoring offense with 32 points per contest. The biggest offensive test will be stopping the run because Harvard ranks third in the conference with 153 rush yards per contest.
Princeton has limited teams to an insane 46 rush yards per contest and held the fourth-best rushing offense in the conference, Columbia, to just 49 yards on the ground. However, Columbia did not have Aiden Borguet.
The Tigers offense is led by the most efficient quarterback in the Ivy League, Blake Stenstrom. The junior, who made just 12 passing attempts in his college career prior to this year, has lit up the conference. He's second in the conference in passing yards but leads all other quarterbacks when it comes to completion percentage.
Look for the passing game to flourish against a Harvard defense that ranks bottom three in the Ivy by allowing 271 passing yards per game.
The Crimson have scored more touchdowns than anyone else in the Ivy League, and their best bet of taking down Princeton is turning this game into a shootout.
Unfortunately for Harvard, Columbia, which ranks second in total offense and ranks ahead of the Crimson in both rushing and passing yards per contest, managed just six points against the Tigers.
However, when it comes to red-zone offense, only Penn is better than Harvard, who is scoring on 88.9% of trips. But once again, the Crimson will be challenged by a Tigers defense that gives up a score on just 60% of trips to the red zone.
To limit the Princeton defense, Harvard has to make serious improvements in converting third downs. The Crimson rank last in the conference, as they're converting just 40.3% of third-down attempts.
That isn't the only major issue they'll need to fix on a short week either; no team in the Ivy League has been worse when it comes to penalties. Harvard has racked up 43 penalties in just five games, averaging 87.4 penalty yards per game.
But it isn't all bad as this Harvard team isn't 4-1 off luck alone. The Crimson lead the conference in sacks with 20 on the season, and this is one of their biggest advantages against a Tigers team that comes in last on sacks allowed, giving up 17 on the season.
Princeton vs. Harvard Betting Pick
Harvard has the best running back in the conference in Aidan Borguet, who's averaging 124 yards per game and six yards per carry. However, that won't be enough to beat this Tigers defense alone.
The Crimson have a ton of underlying issues when it comes to third-down conversions, penalties, and time of possession. It's unlikely any of these greatly improve on a short week of preparation, and even if they did marginally improve in each area, I'm still not sure it would be enough to beat this Princeton team.
Yes, Harvard is 4-1 on the season, but none of those wins have been anywhere near as dominant as any of Princeton's. Against Brown, for example, Harvard nearly gave up a 35-7 lead while being outscored, 28-14, in the second half.
Princeton, meanwhile, completed a dominant win over Brown, 35-19.
Harvard's win over Howard, which is 1-5 of the season, was its first win by more than one possession on the season. However, Princeton has faced tougher competition and hasn't won a single game by fewer than 12 points this season.
Lines on the game are not yet out as of writing. I expect Harvard to be a home dog, likely around +3. Nonetheless, I'm confident backing the Tigers as high as a 7-point favorite on the road.