By Matt Leon

By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After enjoying a first-round bye, the 10-2 Villanova Wildcats will welcome Liberty University to the Main Line on Saturday for a second round NCAA FCS Tournament match-up.

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While the Wildcats were resting over the Thanksgiving weekend, Liberty went on the road and beat another Colonial Athletic Association school, James Madison, in the first round, 26-21.

“They’re a late blooming team,” Villanova head coach Andy Talley tells KYW Newsradio. “They really play terrific defense and have an outstanding offense as well. They’ve got a 1,000 yard receiver (junior Darrin Peterson) and a 1,000 yard rusher (junior D.J. Abnar).  They are a can-do kind of a football team, they’ve beaten some very good football teams (including then #1 Coastal Carolina on 11/22).  I would say, frankly, they are one of the top four teams that we’ve played.  We’ll have our hands full with them.”

Liberty averages 32.8 points and 423.9 yards per game. They’ve scored more than 30 points in a game, seven times this season.

Listen to the entire interview with Villanova’s Andy Talley:


“They run an option attack,” Talley says. “They’re coached by a former Nebraska player who was a great option quarterback himself (Turner Gill). And of course they run a lot of the old (longtime former Nebraska coach) Tom Osborne option, Power-I, they come at you. They had a 17-play drive to finish the game against JMU and score the winning touchdown. So they’re a big, fast, physical football team.”

The Wildcats are led by their outstanding quarterback John Robertson. The junior has completed 67% of his passes for 2,629 yards and 34 touchdowns, while throwing just 3 interceptions. In addition, he leads the Wildcats in rushing with 978 yards and he has scored 9 touchdowns on the ground. This week he was named one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award, the FCS version of the Heisman Trophy.

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“If John could win this award it would be fantastic for him and our program,” Talley says. “And we would be the only team in the country to have three Walter Payton Award winners, (WR) Brian Finneran (1997), (RB) Brian Westbrook (2001) and, we hope, John Robertson. John’s certainly one of the great quarterbacks in the country, at any level, and he certainly deserves the Walter Payton Award.”

One of the great advantages of a first-round bye is the ability to rest up and get healthy. As a result, Talley says they have some key pieces set to return to the line-up.

“Tanoh Kpassagnon, our (sophomore) defensive end, is back now,” Talley says. “We also have Earnest Pettway back, our (senior) tight end. And Ross Hall, our (senior) center, is back. So we’re really pleased that we could get three veteran players back on the field Saturday.”

Villanova and Liberty have met four times before, but the last match-up was back in 1994. Villanova leads the all-time series 3-1.

This is Villanova’s 11th appearance in the FCS playoffs. They are 10-9 all-time. They won the national championship in 2009.

The winner of this game will face the winner of Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State in the quarterfinals.

Kickoff on Saturday is set for 4:30pm.

You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.


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