The Harvard Crimson was one of the dominant forces in the early days of intercollegiate football, winning 12 college football national championships between 1875 and 1920. The school also won the 1920 Rose Bowl, defeating Oregon 7 to 6. In the forty-year period from 1889 to 1928, Harvard had more than 80 first-team All-American selections. Under head coach Percy Haughton, Harvard had three consecutive undefeated seasons from 1912 to 1914, including two perfect seasons in 1912 and 1913.
The NCAA decided to split Division I into two subdivisions in 1978, then called I-A for larger schools, and I-AA for the smaller ones. The NCAA had devised the split, in part, with the Ivy League in mind, but the conference did not move down for four seasons despite the fact that there were many indications that the ancient eight were on the wrong side of an increasing disparity between the big and small schools. In 1982, the NCAA created a rule that stated a program's average attendance must be at least 15,000 to qualify for I-A membership. This forced the conference's hand, as only some of the member schools met the attendance qualification. Choosing to stay together rather than stand their ground separately in the increasingly competitive I-A subdivision, the Ivy League moved down into I-AA starting with the 1982 season.
Since the formation of the Ivy League, Harvard has won 13 Ivy League championships in 1961 (6-3-0), 1966 (8-1-0), 1968 (8-0-1), 1974 (7-2-0), 1975 (7-2-0), 1982 (7-3-0), 1983 (6-2-2), 1987 (8-2-0), 1997 (9-1-0), 2001 (9-0-0), 2004 (10-0-0), 2007 (8-2-0), 2008 (9-1-0).
Harvard and Yale have been competing against each other in football since 1875. The annual rivalry game between the two schools, known as "The Game", is played in November at the end of the football season. As of 2009, Yale led the series 65–53–8. The Game is the second oldest continuing rivalry and also the third most-played rivalry game in college football history, after the Lehigh–Lafayette Rivalry (1884) and the Princeton–Yale game (1873). Sports Illustrated On Campus rated the Harvard–Yale rivalry the sixth-best in college athletics in 2003. In 2006, Yale ended a five-game losing streak against Harvard, winning 34–13. That Harvard winning streak was third longest in the history of the series, after Yale's 1902–1907 six-game winning streak and Yale's 1880–1889 eight-game winning streak. Harvard has since beaten Yale in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. The Game is significant for historical reasons as the rules of The Game soon were adopted by other schools. Football's rules, conventions, and equipment, as well as elements of "atmosphere" such as the mascot and fight song, include many elements pioneered or nurtured at Harvard and Yale.
Harvard Stadium is a horseshoe-shaped footballstadium in the Allston neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States. The stadium is an important historic landmark. Built in 1903 it is the nation's oldest stadium. It was also the world's first massive reinforced-concrete structure, and considered at the time of construction to be the 'finest structure of its kind in the world'. Amazingly, the structure was completed in just six months, mainly by the efforts of Harvard students, and for a budget of $200,000. Thus 'the stadium represents the thought, the money, the ideas, the planning, and the manual labor of Harvard men'. As such, it is one of three athletic arenas distinguished as a National Historic Landmark (the Rose Bowl and the Yale Bowl are the other two). The stadium seats 30,323. Temporary steel stands were added in the stadiums to expand capacity to 57,166 until 1951. Afterward, there were smaller temporary stands until the building of the Murr Center (which is topped by the new scoreboard) in 1998. In 2006, Harvard installed both FieldTurf and lights.
Since the first All-American team was selected by Casper Whitney in 1889, more than 100 Harvard football players have been selected as first-team All-Americans. Consensus All-Americans are noted below with bold typeface.