No. 19 Villanova (2-1) at Lafayette (1-2)
Fisher Stadium, Easton, Pa.
Saturday, 6 p.m.
After an impressive win to open league play, Villanova will play its final non-conference game of the season. Here’s a look at what to expect:
The Wildcats showed exactly why they’re nationally ranked last week with a very complete 41-20 victory over a good Towson team. Sophomore quarterback Zach Bednarczyk led the way with 230 passing yards and three touchdowns while completing 20 of his 26 pass attempts, and junior safety Rob Rolle set a school record with a 100-yard interception return. Fresh off a career-high 155 yard game, senior tailback Javon White played well again with 80 rushing yards and two TDs to help Villanova win its second straight after a season-opening loss to Pittsburgh.
After opening its season by beating Central Connecticut State 24-10, the Leopards dropped two straight games to Delaware and Princeton. In their 35-31 loss to Princeton last week, quarterback Drew Reed was a big bright spot, throwing for 356 yards and three touchdowns. Picked sixth out of seven teams in the Patriot League, Lafayette is led by Reed and senior linebacker Brandon Bryant, who had 114 tackles last year and has 27 tackles and two sacks so far this season.
Saturday’s game marks the first time in 96 years these two Pennsylvania programs will meet. Before that, the Wildcats and Leopards played four times between 1898 and 1920 with Lafayette winning all of them by a combined 77-3 margin.
Storyline to watch
Perhaps the most exciting part of Villanova’s win last week was Taurus Phillips’ breakout game as the junior wide receiver had his first career 100-yard receiving game and his first two career touchdowns. Villanova’s high-octane rushing attack will certainly gain plenty of yards against Lafayette’s leaky run defense but it will also be interesting to see if Phillips and Villanova’s still-inexperienced receiving corps can carry their share of the offensive load too.
What’s at stake
Non-conference games naturally aren’t as important as CAA ones but every game counts for the Wildcats as they look to climb up the national poll and solidify their position as one of the best teams in the FCS.
Villanova already beat one Patriot League team in Lafayette’s arch-rival Lehigh. Except the Wildcats to beat another one.
Villanova 35, Lafayette 17