This Saturday, the Villanova Football Team will take on the Quakers of the University of Pennsylvania. This will be the first time since 2007 that the yearly tilt between the two teams will be played away from Franklin Field. Villanova has not lost in this series in 99 years, but for some reason Penn is able to keep games closer than the obvious talent gap between the two teams should allow. With a home game this season, Villanova should be able to take care of business against Penn this season.
Here are my keys to the game:
- Take Control of The Game Early- This season, the UPenn football team is playing in honor of defensive end Owen Thomas, who committed suicide earlier this year. Penn always gets up to play this game, and I expect that they will try to honor their fallen comrade by finally beating Villanova and winning another Ivy League title. To counter this emotion, Villanova must deflate the Quakers by letting them know early that they will never be able to stand toe to toe with The 'Cats and come away with a win.
- Good Quarterback Play- In the last two meetings with The Quakers, Villanova has benched the starting quarterback during the game because they were either unable to move the ball (Chris Whitney last year) or threw what seemed to be five end zone interceptions (Antwon Young in 2008.) Since Villanova's backup Dustin Thomas is out for the second straight week, they do not have the luxury of a backup quarterback who will be able to confidently fill in, so Whitney will have to play better than he did last year.
- Protect The Ball- I have no doubt that Villanova is a better team than Penn, but that doesn't mean this game will be a cakewalk. Penn could find a way to stay in the game if Villanova coughs up the football a few time. I can say definitively that if Villanova wins the turnover battle in this game, they will win the game. If Villanova turns the ball over and Penn is able to get points off those turnovers, the chances of an upset happening are exponentially greater.
- Keep Ball Rolling- Senior running back Aaron Ball has been Villanova's best offensive player so far this season, with 100 yard rushing performances against both Towson and Lehigh. Penn has been stout against the run the past two seasons, but I have confidence that Ball can break through the Quaker defense and have another big game. Giving him the ball early and often and having success doing so will make for a long night for Penn.