At 6 p.m. Saturday, the sun will start to set over Providence, but historic Brown Stadium will be lighting up. For the first time, the Bears will host a night game at its 85-year-old stadium, as they take on Harvard in a crucial Ivy League matchup. Temporary lights have been installed for the special occasion.
Brown players are well aware of the historical significance of Saturday's game.
"Given our program's vast history and all the tremendous individuals who have played here, it is really special to be able to partake in something that has never been done before," last week's overtime hero Zach Tronti '11 wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. "This is something we will be able to talk about for the rest of our lives."
While Harvard is accustomed to playing under the lights, the Crimson are just as excited to be a part of Brown Stadium's first night game.
"We really love the festive atmosphere," said Head Coach Tim Murphy. "We've been playing under the lights for a while now, but it's always fun. It gets everyone pumped up and it is just such a great time."
The game is set to headline Homecoming weekend, and a large turnout of Brown students and alums, in addition to a healthy fan section from Cambridge, is anticipated to fill the stands.
Not to be lost in all the history and hype is the importance of the game to the seasons of both teams. Both sides are conference title contenders coming off opening wins last Saturday. Brown defeated Stony Brook dramatically in double overtime while Harvard cruised past Holy Cross, 34-6. While these out-of-conference wins were important to both sides, the squads are looking at Saturday's game as a must-win.
"In order to win the Ivy League, you almost always have to run the table. Every league game is huge," Tronti wrote. "Starting out 1-0 will give us a huge boost going forward in league play."
The fact that the first league game is against Harvard also gives the Bears incentive.
"The Ivy League has no championship game so every Ivy League game is equally important in the win-loss column, but Harvard is always highlighted on the schedule. A win against Harvard would send the rest of the Ivy League a message," wrote right guard Brian Ellixson '11 in an e-mail to The Herald.
The meeting will be the 110th between the two schools, and the rivals have accumulated a great respect for one another.
"We know that Brown is going to be one of the most physical teams we go up against all year," Murphy said. "We know that they are always going to be well-coached."
A key factor for the game will be the status of Brown quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero '11. The starting QB missed last week's game with a hand injury, but Joe Springer '11 filled in capably to lead Bruno to victory. Newhall-Caballero practiced this week, and is expected back under center Saturday night.
On the other side of the ball, the Crimson offense will be led by 24-year-old quarterback Andrew Hatch, who notably started three games for SEC giants Louisiana State in 2008 before transferring to Harvard. Hatch's experience and intelligence were on display last week as he threw for 276 yards and three touchdowns without turning the ball over once.
The Bears are hungry to get on the field Saturday for a memorable game that will certainly go down in Brown football history.
"It's very exciting and it's going to be a great atmosphere," Ellixson wrote, "but it'll only be significant if we win the game."