No. 10 Villanova (6-2, 4-1 CAA) at Maine (5-3, 4-1 CAA)
Alfond Stadium, Orono, Maine
After getting some much-needed rest during a bye week, Villanova will look to continue to climb the national rankings. Here’s a look at the matchup:
After seeing their five-game winning streak snapped with a 23-0 loss to Richmond, Villanova responded emphatically with a 24-13 victory over then-No. 23 Albany before its bye. Aaron Forbes, who shares carries with Javon White and Matt Gudzak in the backfield, led the way with a career-high 151 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and currently leads the ’Cats with 600 rushing yards and seven TDs. And the Wildcats’ defense had another dominant effort with nine sacks, including 3½ from junior linebacker Ed Shockley, the most by any FCS team this season. Led by senior defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon, who’s top 10 nationally in tackles for loss and sacks, Villanova leads the CAA in sacks per game, as well as four other categories — scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and third-down defense.
The Black Bears have been streaky this season, losing their first three games before reeling off their next five wins heading into this weekend. All five of those wins were by one score or less, including a 35-28 win over William & Mary last week. Quarterback Dan Collins threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns in that victory, and is currently averaging 222.8 passing yards per game — second best in the CAA. Collins’ favorite target is Micah Wright, one of the league’s top receivers and an explosive kick returner. Maine’s defense, though, ranks near the bottom of the CAA, allowing 27.1 points and 411.1 yards per contest.
It’s about as close as a series can be with Villanova leading 10-9 overall. But the Wildcats have won five of the last seven since 2007.
Storyline to watch
How will Villanova play after a week off? It’s always an interesting question but recent history says the Wildcats will be just fine as they’ve gone 12-3 in their last 15 games following a bye. And head coach Andy Talley said the bye came at a good time since key players like quarterback Zach Bednarczyk were recently dealing with injuries but the team is now as “healthy as we’ve been all year” heading into a tough road game.
What’s at stake?
This game has a lot of implications in the CAA title race as Villanova and Maine are among five teams with only one league loss — all of whom trail unbeaten James Madison by a game.
The fact that the Black Bears are allowing more points than they’re scoring should tell you that they’re probably not at the same level as ’Nova and the other top CAA teams.
Villanova 35, Maine 17