Reporting Matt Leon
By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Franklin Field will be the place to be on Saturday as Penn and Villanova mix it up on the gridiron.
This has proven to be an incredibly entertaining series over the last decade or so, but Villanova always finds a way to win. Since 1999, Villanova is 10-0 against the Quakers, despite the fact that seven of the last nine match-ups have been one-possession games in the fourth quarter.
The Quakers come into this one off a season-opening 28-21 loss at Lafayette. In that game Penn turned the ball over an alarming eight times. But despite that they had the football late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie the game.
“Obviously, we made a lot of mistakes, much more than I would’ve anticipated or liked,” Penn coach Al Bagnoli tells KYW Newsradio. “But our kids fought the entire 60 minutes and I think that’s a real positive.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Al Bagnoli:
Villanova is 2-1 and they will come into Saturday fresh off back-to-back wins over Fordham and Rhode Island.
“In the second half of the last two games we’ve really shut the opponent out and put some points up on the board,” Villanova head coach Andy Talley tells KYW Newsradio. “So we’re a young team on the rise, trying to get better each week.”
You won’t find any bulletin board material between these two teams as they hold each other in the highest regard.
“They are very good,” Talley says about Penn. “I think Al has one of the best teams he’s had in a long time. And you can tell they have talent across the board. It’s a very senior-dominated football team with two very, very good quarterbacks. So we’re in for a rough, rough game. We know that.”
Listen to Matt Leon’s interview with Andy Talley:
“I think there is such a great respect between the two programs,” Bagnoli says. “I know our kids think the world of the Villanova athletes and the Villanova program, and the job that Coach Talley and his staff does. So we go into it with a tremendous amount of respect.”
Getting down to the x’s and o’s, a key in this one will be the match-up of the Villanova offense against the Penn defense. Bagnoli says that Wildcat unit really makes like difficult.
“They do a great job on offense. They create angles, and they create mismatches and they get numbers at the point of attack and they do everything that a good offensive staff should do. So it really causes you some migraines when you’re trying to defend them.”
Talley says the Quaker defense is top notch.
“They are a run stopping defense. That’s what they do. They put all their eggs in that basket and they challenge you to throw the ball successfully. And they have a terrific secondary. A ball-hawking secondary with a lot of speed. So they don’t give you a chance to separate much. And if you can’t run the ball against them, you’re in for a long day.”
Villanova has been able to run the ball against everyone so far this year. They are averaging 248 yards a game on the ground in 2012.
This will be just the third game in FCS history featuring two coaches with more than 220 career wins. Bagnoli has 222 victories while Talley has notched 220.
Penn and Villanova kick-off at 3:30pm on Saturday at Franklin Field.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.