It's Friday, and that means... it's time to gather around the water cooler and talk football.
Unsurprisingly, around here the big talk concerns the only sold-out football game in the Philadelphia area tomorrow: the Villanova/Lehigh game. The press links are below, including the national pundits' predictions.
There are several options for getting the broadcast of this game. It won't be on broadcast TV, but if you're already a subscriber to the Lehigh Sports broadcast package you can get audio of the game, courtesy of AM 1230/AM 1320 in the Lehigh Valley with Kody Fedorcha ('00) and Matt Kerr.
Another option is to subscribe to the video feed through the Villanova website through NovaNation ($9.95 for a monthly pass) or CSTV XXL.
Here are the links.
David Coulson, The Sports Network: Top 25 Predictions
After a respectable performance by the Villanova Wildcats in their season opening setback to West Virginia a couple of weeks ago, Andy Talley's troops have had a week off to prepare for in-state foe Lehigh.
In its first outing of the season, Lehigh showed some signs of life after struggling since Pete Lembo departed for Elon a couple of years ago. The Mountain Hawks scored a 19-0 win over Drake to commence the season last Saturday in Bethlehem, PA.
Senior quarterback J.B. Clark threw two touchdowns on 9-12 passing for 146 yards, while Senior running back Matt McGowan controlled the ball for Lehigh once it had the lead and kept the clock rolling with 173 yards on 39 carries to put the game away.
Villanova, led by signal-caller Antwon Young had several positives to pull from their loss in Morganton, Wva., out-gaining the Mountaineers 399-354 in total yards, tallied more first downs (28-21) and controlled the clock (37:32-22:38).
Lehigh leads the series 5-4 between the two Pennsylvania rivals but Villanova should tie the series at five this afternoon.
Villanova 24, Lehigh 20
The CSN Way: We Don't Like Ike
Lehigh at #21 Villanova. With a week off after their 48-21 loss to BCS title contender West Virginia, the Wildcats welcome a new local rival in Lehigh fresh off their 19-0 shutout of Drake. The matchup between Lehigh’s defensive front, featuring defensive lineman Brian Jackson, should be interesting to watch against dynamic quarterback Antwon Young and the Wildcats’ spread offense. The key, though, might be Lehigh’s inexperienced offense versus the more veteran Villanova defense.
Not Just Hoops Anymore 24, 12 Different Herbs & Spices 17.
The CAA Today: Answers, or just questions?
Lehigh at No. 21 Villanova 1 pm (Nova wins going away): Villanova has struggled against Lehigh in recent years, but I don’t think it will happen this week. I really believe that Villanova is the sleeper team this year. It is loaded, and I think Talley will have the players up for this game after a bye week. It is the Wildcats’ home opener; it’s parents’ weekend, and it has a sellout crowd. Lehigh is a good team, but this is one of the best Nova teams in recent years.
In week one, coach Talley thought his team came out of the West Virginia game fairly healthy, but as it turns out, he was glad he had the bye week as he felt that if he had to play this past week, he might have had to do so without six or seven starters. So, the bye week came at a good time after all. Other than starting guard Brian Brannigan, they are all back and healthy now for this game. Coach Talley had an interesting statistic that is telling about games against FBS schools. He said that West Virginia played about 70 people against him while he played only 34 players, which are just staggering numbers. Coach Talley also said that they used the bye week to work a lot on special teams, which was a weak spot against West Virginia.My bet is Talley has them ready and Nova is just too much for Lehigh this year, but this could be a close one and because of the rivalry factor, I will set the upset meter a little bit past middle.
The Upset Meter Rating here is; [ - - - - - 6 - - - - ]
Official Lehigh website: Coen, Healion & Pierce Discuss Villanova (with video highlights)
Coach Coen on Villanova: “They present a lot of challenges. They’re going to be a very athletic football team, a very physical football team. So we’re going to have to play very well. But I certainly know, as we showed a couple of years ago, we’re very capable of going into Villanova Stadium and coming back with a victory.”Express-Times: Coen discusses upcoming game at Villanova (audio clip)
LFN Fave junior LB Al Pierce on Villanova's passing game: “This week, going into the week, we’re preparing for a fast quarterback. He’s strong running and passing, and I feel we just need to keep pressure on him to make mistakes.”
Senior TE Troy Healion: "They're big, they're fast, they're athletic. They did a lot against West Virginia, but against us they're going to blitz a lot more. We need to be ready to pick up all the blitzes and give sophomore QB J.B. Clark time."
"I have a lot of respect for coach Talley and his program and his staff. His team will always be very prepared. Offensively, they are a big-play type of offense, very explosinve and junior QB Antwon Young is the type of weapon they need to execute that philosophy. Last year, he threw a TD pass that was probably 60 or 70 yards in the air against us. He's got great feet too, so the key for us in attacking him and not let him escape and make great plays with his feet."Morning Call: Lehigh defense has tough job vs. Villanova
Groller's Corner: 5 Things to take away from Lehigh's Football Luncheon
''This is going to be a good test for our defense because Young is a strong quarterback,'' Pierce said. ''Still, we're real excited to go down there and play them.''
This is the third year of the 3-4 scheme under defensive coordinator Dave Kotulski, and Pierce said everyone is comfortable with the system.
''Coach has simplified things for us,'' Pierce said. ''He shortened up what we're running, so we don't have as much to worry about.''
Villanova poses enough things to worry about.
''They present a lot of challenges with their athleticism and with how physical they play,'' coach Andy Coen said. ''We're going to have to play very, very well. But as we showed two years ago [a 31-28 win], we're capable of going into that stadium and coming out with a victory. We're just going to have to eliminate the mistakes we made last week in all phases.''
Easton Express-Times: 'Nova likes to strike fast
The win over Drake, as suspected, was huge as far as building some momentum and confidence. Even though the weather was a major factor, the positive results early in building that 13-0 lead laid a positive foundation and showed the team, after all of those preseason practices, that they're on the right path. After reviewing the tape, Coen found even more things to like about how sophomore QB J.B. Clark handled himself in his debut.
Villanova head coach Andy Talley said his defense is focusing on stopping senior Matt McGowan and the run. McGowan had a career-high 39 carries and 173 yards against Drake.
"I am impressed with the Lehigh running game," Talley, entering his 24th year with the Wildcats, said. "I don't think we can stop them, but hopefully slow them down."
Coen said Villanova has an explosive offense that relies on big plays and said his players should build off of the positives from the win against Drake if they want to upset the Wildcats.
"Hopefully our kids know they can go into Villanova Stadium and come out with a victory," Coen said. "We need to be a confident football team if we're going to have any chance of winning."
Brown & White: Football team heads to Villanova Saturday
Senior defensive lineman Brian Jackson said he is confident the team will find the solution for success this weekend.
"Villanova is a nationally ranked team and they will be a tough opponent," Jackson said. "But if we play our game and play Lehigh football then we should come out on top."
With a win under his belt, quarterback sophomore J.B. Clark is excited to go head-to-head with Villanova.
Clark said. "We are all working hard. Whether it's on the field or in the meeting room, we know we have a big task at hand and we'll be ready."