Why Villanova will beat Penn football | VUhoops.com's Brian Ewart
Welcome to a new feature to The Buzz called "Why Penn will lose." Each week, we will have a reporter who covers the opposing squad talk about why that team will beat Penn, giving you an introduction to Penn's upcoming foe.
To start it all off, we have Brian Ewart of VUhoops.com explaining why he thinks Villanova will take down the football on Saturday. You can follow him on Twitter @Brian_Ewart or @VUhoops.
Why will Penn lose?
The easy answer to this question is, “because they haven’t won this matchup yet,” at least not since Andy Talley revived Villanova’s program from the dead in the mid-1980s. The Wildcats are a different sort of team from Penn, and the Quakers are definitely a different sort of team from the pre-Ivy teams that won five-straight against the ‘Cats (and later had a national TV deal with ABC). The goals are different, the money is different and the athletes are different.
That isn’t the say that Penn could run their sprint football team out of the locker room on Saturday and achieve the same effect, but the Wildcats look at Frisco, Texas for their season aspiration, while Penn will certainly finish their season in Ithaca.
Villanova’s John Robertson is one of the best college football players in the country, even playing with a broken hand and a hip pointer, he managed to impress last week. If you’ve paid any attention, you know that he can pick up yardage in big chunks with his legs, but he is also 4th in the nation for completion percentage. The offense also features Kevin Monangai, a powerful runner who can break-away if he can get into the open field, and Poppy Livers, a spark-plug slot receiver with good hands and a knack for finding a seam to move after the catch. This is one of the best offensive team’s Penn will play this season, and even though field goals are a bit of a crapshoot, they don’t usually need to rely on those.
What’s really impressive though, is the Villanova defense. They held Fordham to just 16 rushing yards and they’ve looked unstoppable at times. They rank 17th in the country against the run, though they are flawed against the passing game. Even that flaw is essentially a matter of maturity – young cornerbacks make mistakes – but they have the excessive speed to run their mistakes down and mitigate the damage.
The Wildcats’ defense will make Penn uncomfortable on Saturday. They will frustrate the Quakers’ running game and have the speed and playmaking ability to keep up with the passing game. When Penn scores, they can expect Villanova’s offense to answer with one of their own.
Penn should lose a game against a team that looks like it could be the best in the CAA and one of the best in the nation at this level. The Quakers haven’t been favored in this game in a long time, however, and too many of these games have been perilously close to a win for the Quakers. They should have won one of the last 13, in all honesty, but Villanova has pulled it out in the end every time.
This weekend is the end of a frustrating series for Al Bagnoli. I expect that he will have his team ready to pull out all the stops, and may just make the Wildcats look a little more pedestrian than they have looked otherwise.