Discover more from Football Archaeology
Today's Tidbit... The Battle Of The Bulldogs: Yale vs. Georgia
Yale's reputation as a football power and the shared gate receipts from the massive Yale Bowl allowed the boys in blue to host most of their football games before WWII. Playing at home gave Yale many advantages while robbing its players of the consistent experience of venturing into enemy territory, hoping to emerge victorious.
Pre-WWII, Yale generally played one away game per year, playing at Princeton one year and Harvard the next. As a result, most gentlemen had to come calling. Their home games were such a regular feature that the New Haven Railroad, which dominated southern New England transportation, published a timetable with pricing to and from all points in their network for football Saturdays.
Yale filled its dance card in the 1920s and 1920s with New England and Mid-Atlantic visitors. Exceptions included North Carolina and Carnegie Tech visiting twice in the 1920s, Chicago once in 1932, and Washington & Lee saddled up to New Haven in 1933. The Yalies also played at Michigan in 1939.
Of course, the significant exception was the Yale-Georgia series, played eleven times between 1923 and 1934. Given the state of college football then and now, the Battle of the Bulldogs was unusual, but it was among the first intersectional series to dot the game.
Seemingly odd gridiron fellows, Yale alums were instrumental in founding the University of Georgia, with their influence extending to some of the early architecture in Athens. That early friendship allowed the up-and-coming Georgians to schedule games at Yale, with the northern Bulldogs winning the first four games.
1923: Yale (8-0) Georgia (5-3-1) 40-0
1924: Yale (6-0-2) Georgia (7-3) 7-6
1925: Yale (5-2-1 ) Georgia (4-5 ) 35-7
1926: Yale (4-4 ) Georgia (5-4) 19-0
Things began to change in 1927 when the Southerners headed north once again, and, with the aid of four late defensive stops, the Athenian Bulldogs became the first Southern team to beat Yale, winning 14-10.
1927: Yale (7-1) Georgia (9-1) 10-14
1928: Yale (4-4) Georgia (4-5) 21-6
Yale returned to their winning ways in 1928 before Georgia requested that Yale visit Athens for the opening game of Sanford Stadium. Yale agreed to open the new venue as other schools in the area moved their games to Friday to allow fans to attend Georgia's big game.
Yale stepped on the field wearing the wool jerseys for the October games in New England. However, Athens brought the heat, forcing Georgia to substitute heavily as the crowd of 35,000 watched the Red Bulldogs blank those in blue 15-0.
The next five games were in New Haven, with Georgia winning them all. Georgia's 1934 win marked the first time an opponent trimmed Yale's sails five years in a row. It was also the last time the teams played one another, so in a narrow sense, the story ends there.
1929: Yale (5-2-1 ) @ Georgia (6-4 ) 0-15
1930: Yale (5-2-2) Georgia (7-2-1) 14-18
1931: Yale (5-1-2) Georgia (8-2 )7-26
1933: Yale (4-4) Georgia (8-2) 0-7
1934: Yale (5-3) Georgia (7-3) 7-14
More broadly, the odd couple series between two sets of Bulldogs encapsulated the shift in the game's power from the Northeast to the South and points west. Columbia played in the 1934 Rose Bowl, but that would be the last postseason game for the Ivies as they steered clear of the formal athletic scholarships popping up among the Southern schools.
Subscribe for free and never miss a story. Support this site with a paid subscription, buy me a coffee (or two), or buy a book or a blog-used item.