Mike McLeod

cLeod, who played the second half of last year with a broken toe, posted school records of 1,619 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns for the season, en route to all-American honors and a unanimous selection as Ivy League MVP. The New Britain, Conn., native already holds the Yale career records for rushing yards (3,672) and touchdowns (49), and the five-foot-11, 210-pound running back looks to build upon those numbers in his senior campaign, beginning with Saturday’s opener against Georgetown.

cLeod’s big game capabilities may pose a problem for the Hoyas, as he has posted three 200-yard games in his career and set the Bulldog record of 276 rushing yards against Lehigh last season. His five TDs at Holy Cross also tied the school mark.

cLeod has played as consistently as he has explosively, reaching the end zone for an Ivy League record of 18 consecutive games and rushing for 100 yards 19 times.

The Hoya defense will need to find a way to limit the rushing attack if they are to avenge last year’s 28-14 loss in the teams’ first-ever meeting, a game in which McLeod ran for 159 yards and four scores.

Bobby Abare

Abare, a senior linebacker out of Acton, Mass., anchors a stout defense that led Yale to a 9-1 record last season. The all-American has not only led the Bulldogs in tackles the last two seasons, finishing last year with 86, but he has also compiled 18.5 tackles for loss, four fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, six interceptions and two touchdowns in his career.

As Yale’s football captain, the senior attended a Sept. 2 ceremony at Fenway Park honoring the Yale-Harvard rivalry. He posed for pictures with Harvard captain Matt Curtis before each threw out a ceremonial first pitch. His leadership on the field will be crucial to Yale in their home-opener.

The Hoya offense hopes to return to the form that won the home-opener against Howard, but progress won’t come easily against the Bulldog defense. Abare has been named as one of 16 players on the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, and he will be looking to make his mark on this contest.

– A.J. Betts

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