Football vs. Tufts Game Notes

Saturday is the 102nd meeting between long-time rivals Bowdoin College and Tufts University. The Polar Bears enter this weekend with a record of 1-1 after splitting their first two games against Williams and Amherst. The Jumbos (2-0) enter the game as one of four unbeaten teams in the NESCAC, having beaten Hamilton and Bates by a combined score of 59-27.

Tufts University will carry the game live on the internet via Jumbocast. Click on the link shortly before gametime for the live feed from Zinman Field in Medford.

Bowdoin concludes the Massachusetts portion of their schedule this weekend, closing out their three-game stretch to start the season against the NESCAC's trio of Bay State schools. The Polar Bears should feel right at home, boasting 36 players (more than half the roster) from the Commonwealth. Bowdoin drops Williams (for Middlebury) in the 2008 season and will host Tufts and Amherst, so all of the squad's juniors and seniors will be playing their final collegiate contest in Massachusetts, including Ian Merry (Salem), Nick Tomaino (Gloucester), Tim Kelleher (Pepperell), Mike Karrat (Ashland), Jeff Smith (Needham), Damon Hall-Jones (Milton), Mike McClellan (Marshfield), Lamont White (Boston), Laurence Duggan (Weston), Jason Koperniak (Adams), Ben Larkins (Acton), Gus Spaulding (Chestnut Hill), Ray Wang (Sherborn), Matt McCall (Natick), Tim Colton (Milton), Michael Welsh (Milford), Ben Shulman (Hingham) and Steve Cunningham (Milton).

After a stirring week one victory over Williams, the Polar Bears stumbled in their first road game of the season, falling to Amherst 30-6. Bowdoin will attempt to shore up their running defense which allowed over 300 yards rushing and ranks last in the NESCAC after two weeks of play (224.0 ypg). The Polar Bears couldn't get much going offensively against the Jeffs and tumbled to eighth in the league in total offense (275.0 ypg). However, the Polar Bears are fourth in the conference in pass defense, having picked off six passes and allowed just one touchdown. Bowdoin is first in the NESCAC in turnover margin, averaging +3.0 per game. Quarterback Oliver Kell is fourth in the league in passing (193.0 ypg) while Ian Merry ranks fourth in receiving (80.0 ypg). Defensively, Lamont White and Matt Leotti are tied for third in the NESCAC with two interceptions apiece this season.

Tufts ranks among the top teams in the conference offensively after beating up on Bates and Hamilton (who were a combined 3-13 last season) in their first two weeks. Tufts is third in the league in scoring offense (29.5 ppg) behind their third-ranked rushing offense (145.5 ypg). Despite their success, no Jumbo ranks among the top five in any individual offensive category in the conference. Defensively, they are third in the NESCAC in both scoring (13.5 ppg) and total defense (285.0 ypg). Tom Tassinari leads the unit with three interceptions this season.

Jumbos snapped a two-year losing skid to Bowdoin, displaying a dominant rushing attack in a 16-6 victory over Bowdoin last season. Tufts finished the afternoon with 246 yards rushing, led by 70 from Will Forde, and scored 10 second-half points to pull away from the Polar Bears.

The Polar Bears have won two of the last three meetings, but there has been little difference between the teams in the past few years. In fact, over the last three meetings Tufts has out-scored Bowdoin 36-30 but has gone 1-2. The storied rivalry dates back to 1889 (an 8-4 Tufts victory) and spans 101 games (Tufts leads 56-43-2). The most unique contest, however, was the 1992 game that was played in Galway, Ireland - the first Division III game played in Europe. Bowdoin won that contest 7-6 and the teams have split the last 16 games (8-8).