Predicting Holy Cross' Polar Park 2023 Polar Park Opponent
Not many options exist for the Crusaders’ third Polar Park opponent, but one option stands out.
Last week, Holy Cross released its schedules for the next two seasons, filled with the standard mix of regional rivals and FBS foes. Of course, the question of who Holy Cross plays in the annual EBW Classic game at Polar Park, the home of the Worcester Red Sox accompanies this schedule release.
In 2021, the game was a smash hit, as a sellout crowd of 9,508 fans watched Holy Cross blowout Colgate 42-10. The blowout was a sign of things to come the next year as Holy Cross shut out hapless Bucknell 57-0 in the second EBW Classic. Holy Cross raced to a 37-0 halftime lead and never looked back. To make matters worse, only 7,568 fans showed up to the Crusaders' second game at Polar Park.
This year, the EBW Classic could benefit from a close game after two duds. Already a couple of Holy Cross' are out of the picture due to the Worcester Red Sox's home schedule, which does not end until September 17.
This eliminates the Crusaders' September 2nd game against Merrimack and their September 23rd game against Colgate, in the event the Worcester Red Sox makes the International League Championship.
This leaves three options that I will rank in terms of least desirable to most:
3.) Georgetown: November 18
Nothing against Georgetown, but having the Hoyas play at Polar Park seems anti-climactic. Georgetown is consistently one of the Patriot League's worst teams and last year was no different. The Hoyas went 2-9 last year, including a 47-10 loss to Holy Cross in the final week of the season. Georgetown fans will likely not travel well to this game as the Hoyas averaged 2000 fans per game. The only advantage may be that this game is on the final week of the season so the Crusaders could clinch the Patriot League at Polar Park.
Despite most of their meetings coming after both joined the Patriot League, the Hoya-Crusader series dates back to 1904 with 34 meetings.
2.) Lafayette: October 21
Hosting Lafayette at Polar Park would be a solid option for Holy Cross. Aside from Fordham, the Leopards gave the Crusaders their biggest scare in Patriot League play. Holy Cross trailed by 4 throughout most of the fourth quarter before Matthew Sluka threw a touchdown pass to Justin Shorter with four minutes left to preserve their undefeated season.
Lafayette will be competitive against Holy Cross and having a competitive game at Polar Park would be a win. While Lafayette is distant like Georgetown, they would travel better, as the Leopards averaged 4308 fans. The Leopards-Holy Cross rivalry lacks history as all meetings have taken place since 1986 when the Patriot League began play. Also of note is Lafayette's last ballpark game was in 2014 against Lehigh at Yankee Stadium for that rivalry's 150th game.
1.) Harvard: September 30
Was there any question that this game would be the most desired EBW Classic game? Harvard is Holy Cross' biggest rival as the series dates back to 1904 with 73 meetings between the two. Harvard is still a brand name in the eyes of several programs as Howard hosted Harvard in their Truth and Service Classic this year.
A Harvard-Holy Cross EBW Classic would easily sellout as Harvard is an easy commuter rail ride away from downtown Worcester. While Lafayette-Holy Cross would be competitive, Harvard-Holy Cross will be one of the more important games of the Patriot League season. Harvard's last ballpark game was their 2018 game against Yale at Fenway Park.
While Holy Cross would likely draw well with any team, the intrigue and highest profitability rests in Holy Cross playing the Crimson at Worcester’s bandbox ballpark. The last thing Holy Cross would want is another blowout against a league opponent.
Throughout my research, the 2018 Holy Cross Football Fact Book aided my research immensely, you can check it out here.