Villanova basketball usually dominates the spotlight on the Main Line, but this week the Wildcat football team gets center stage as it heads to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS- formerly I-AA) national championship game in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Villanova basketball usually dominates the spotlight on the Main Line, but this week the Wildcat football team takes center stage as it heads to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS- formerly I-AA) national championship game in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Villanova edged CAA conference rival William & Mary14-13 in Friday’s FCS semifinal at Villanova to earn the pr0gram’s first ever trip to the championship game.
“It’s kind of unbelievable to actually be sitting here saying ‘Villanova’s going to the national championship.’ It’s just been amazing.” said senior linebacker Osayi Osunde. “We went from being a 4-7 team my freshman year to now we’re a 13-1 team my senior year.”
“We’ve been knocking on the door for a long time in our program.” said head coach Andy Talley. “This is our seventh or eighth playoff. We’ve been to the semifinals before. I think getting to a national championship is the ultimate. It’s very difficult. It’s extremely difficult.”
The Wildcats reached the national semifinals in 2002 before losing to McNeese State. They were in the quarterfinals a year ago, before losing to James Madison in a 31-27 heartbreaker.
“Last year’s team was just as talented as the team that we have this year, but we did end up a little short.” Osunde said. “We tasted the playoff victories last year and I think that brought a lot of experience to the players we have now. It’s been a long journey and it started after the season last year. Our team made a pact with each other and we decided to work as hard as we can pretty much from January to this point and everything’s paid off.”
Coming on the heels of the basketball team’s trip to the Final Four earlier this, you could say things are going well for Wildcat athletics
“To be playing for a national championship continues to push the national prestige of our university.” said Talley. “Villanova basketball in the Final Four and now Villanova football in the final championship game is tremendous for our alumni, our administration and students.”
And while football is unlikely to supplant basketball as the top sport at Villanova, Wildcat players say they are feeling some love these days.
“You have people e-mailing you, e-mailing our coaches ‘You guys are doing a great job.’ Osunde said. “A lot of alumni are coming back and showing us support. Even people from the basketball side are coming to support Villanova football, which is something that’s huge. It’s pretty monumental at Villanova because we are so basketball dominated.”
Villanova (13-1) faces undefeated Montana (14-0) Friday night at 8 pm (ESPN2) in the FCS final at Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium. The Griz were the FCS tournament’s top seed. Villanova was the two seed.
Montana is making its second straight title game appearance and seventh overall. Last year, it lost to Villanova’s CAA rival Richmond 24-7. The Griz won national titles in 1995 and 2001.