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Bulldogs Appear to Have Bite

The Yale football team, shown in action above against Dartmouth's Dominick PIerre last year, has improved dramatically this season under second-year coach Tony Reno. The Bulldogs visit the Big Green on Saturday. (Valley News File Photo - Tris Wykes)

The Yale football team, shown in action above against Dartmouth's Dominick PIerre last year, has improved dramatically this season under second-year coach Tony Reno. The Bulldogs visit the Big Green on Saturday. (Valley News File Photo - Tris Wykes)

As crushing as its four-overtime loss at Pennsylvania was last weekend, the Dartmouth football team has to somehow shake it off and regroup to host Yale in its homecoming game Saturday. The buzz around the building and lighting of the traditional bonfire and the accompanying Dartmouth Night festivities will no doubt help, but here’s the rub: Yale could be better than Penn, which is gunning for its fourth Ivy League title in five years.

The Bulldogs were down in their underbitten teeth last season, the first for new coach Tony Reno, a former Harvard assistant who raided the Crimson staff on his way out the door. But last weekend, Yale (3-0) went to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and knocked off the No. 19 team in the Football Championship Series.

The Bulldogs have beaten Colgate, Cornell and SLO and will be licking their chops at a chance to boot Dartmouth out of the Ivy League title race in front of a Fox College Sports Central audience.

There’s also really no way to ignore the elephant in the room concerning the status of ninth-year Big Green coach Buddy Teevens. A 1-3 overall start, plus an 0-2 Ivy mark, would crank speculation over his future into high gear. Dartmouth has gone 6-4, 5-5 and 6-4 during the past three seasons and failure to get over the hump this fall could prompt athletic director Harry Sheehy to bring in a new coach.

Weaker foes Bucknell and Columbia arrive in Hanover after Yale, but beating them isn’t likely to bring much solace if it comes on the heels of a loss to Yale. Harvard looms after that, and Brown and Princeton seem likely to be stiff challenges to close the season.

That makes a victory over the Bulldogs crucial to Dartmouth’s season and Teevens’ future. Earn a victory, roll over Bucknell and Columbia and steam into the Harvard game at 4-2.

Stay tuned.