Thanks to a lopsided MLB Wild Card Round, Cornell and Harvard received the promotion from ESPNU to ESPN2. This marks a rarity for the Ivy League, which usually has ESPNU as the home for their telecasts. Cornell's last appearance on ESPN or ESPN2 came during the Ivy League's short-lived TV contract with ESPN in 1990. Harvard more recently appeared on one of ESPN2 in the 2018 rendition of "The Game." Below is a ranking of Cornell and Harvard's previous appearances on ESPN's main networks:
3.) November 5, 1988: Cornell 26, Yale 0
Cornell first appeared on ESPN in 1988 when the network's cameras traveled to Schoellkopf Field. Cornell prevailed in a shutout as Scott Malaga ran for 122 yards and Scott Sumida threw for two touchdowns. The Big Red finished the season with a 7-2-1 record and a share of the Ivy League title, and Yale finished 3-6-1.
2.) October 29, 1990: Cornell 34, Brown 7
Two years after their first appearance on ESPN, Cornell blew out another Ancient Eight opponent when they defeated Brown 34-7. John McNiff's 95 rushing yards and a 99-yard pick-six by linebacker Mark Broderick led the way for the Big Red. Cornell finished 7-3 with a share of the Ivy League title, and Brown finished a hapless 2-8.
1.) November 23, 1989: Cornell 20, Penn 6
Like stuffing, turkey, and the Detroit Lions, Cornell and Penn were staples of Thanksgiving, playing every year from 1893-1963 and 1965. ESPN resurrected the tradition in 1989, slating Cornell-Penn for 10 AM ET on Turkey Day.
The game was the closest of any of Cornell's previous ESPN2 appearances as the Big Red held on to a 13-6 lead throughout the 4th quarter. Todd Nicholson's 13-yard touchdown run put the game out of reach as Cornell won 20-6 thanks to 233 rushing yards.
5.) September 22, 1990: Harvard 26, Northeastern 0
Remember when Northeastern had a football team? Harvard's last game under the 1988-1990 ESPN Ivy League contract was a week two matchup against their Boston-area rival, Northeastern.
The Crimson easily defeated the Huskies, holding them to 46 rushing yards on 41 carries. Harvard never looked back after building a 17-0 lead. However, they did not build on the momentum from this game, finishing an even 5-5.
4.) October 22, 1988: Princeton 23, Harvard 8
Princeton easily defeated a Harvard team going through one of its worst seasons ever. The Tigers started the game with 23 unanswered points on the way to a 23-8 win. The most famous of the Garrett brothers, Judd, ran for 78 yards, had 58 receiving yards, and two rushing touchdowns for the Tigers. Princeton finished 6-4, while Harvard finished a lowly 2-8.
3.) October 28, 1989: Princeton 28, Harvard 14
Judd Garrett continued to do it all for Harvard, exceeding his 1988 performance against the Crimson with 311 all-purpose yards against Harvard the following year.
Garrett ran for 151 yards and threw for a 70-yard touchdown pass as Princeton raced to a 28-6 lead. A late Harvard touchdown made the score seem closer than the game actually was. Princeton won a share of the Ivy League in 1989, with a 7-2-1 record, and Harvard finished a middling 5-5.
2.) November 18, 1988: Yale 26, Harvard 17
The first edition of the game to have ESPN as a broadcaster was not without controversy. That same day, Penn and Cornell played one another to determine the Ivy League title, but ESPN instead chose to show the matchup between 2-6-1 Yale and 2-7 Harvard.
Despite the poor records, the two rivals showed ESPN made a good decision by playing a back-and-forth game. Yale built a 13-0 lead early before Harvard fought back to take a 17-13 lead. Ultimately, Yale scored 13 unanswered points to win 26-17.
1.) November 17, 2018: Harvard 45, Yale 27
The only Harvard-Yale game played in the shadow of the Green Monster easily claims the top spot on this list. ESPN2's presence added to the pomp and circumstance of this rare occasion. Despite matching 5-5 records and no Ivy League title at stake, both schools provided high scoring that the bats of Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, and Rico Petrocelli never provided at Fenway Park.
Tom Stewart of Harvard and Yale's Griffin O'Connor both threw for over 300 yards, but The Crimson's 266-83 edge in rushing yards made the difference. Harvard outscored the Bulldogs 17-0 in the 4th quarter to separate themselves in a 45-27 win.