FCS Playoffs First Round
The Matchup - Saint Francis (7-4) at Villanova (8-3)
Kickoff - 2 p.m. ET Saturday at Villanova Stadium (12,000) in Villanova, Pennsylvania
Coverage - ESPN3
Series - Villanova leads 1-0
Players to Watch - Saint Francis: QB/P Zack Drayer (158 of 292, 2,357 yards, 21 TDs, 10 INTs), WR Kamron Lewis (69 receptions, 1,349 yards, 10 TDs), LB Solomon Leaeno (92 tackles, 15.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks); Villanova: QB Zach Bednarczyk (2,144 total yards, 17 total TDs), DE Tanoh Kpassagnon (19 TFL, 8 sacks), LB Austin Calitro (83 tackles)
The Skinny - Saint Francis, the Northeast Conference co-champ, is appearing in the FCS playoffs for the first time. Standout free safety/kickoff returner Lorenzo Jerome (seven takeaways) is the team's most talented player, but he's playing with a partially torn MCL. With the way Villanova limits opposing offenses, coach Chris Villarrial's squad will seek Marcus Bagley carries and the downfield ability of Lewis to set each other up. Senior Lance Geesey gives the Red Flash an edge in the kicking game as he's made 57 field goals in his career. This is the 12th playoff appearance for retiring 'Nova coach Andy Talley, who is 11-10 all-time in the postseason, winning one FCS championship (2009) and reaching the semifinals in two other seasons (2002 and 2010). His Wildcats like to control opponents behind the rushing of Bednarczyk and RBs Aaron Forbes (745 yards), Javon White and Matt Gudzak, and a physical defense that ranks third in the FCS in average yards (265.1) and points (14.9) allowed per game. Safety Rob Rolle has six interceptions, the most in CAA Football, while NFL prospect Kpassagnon was just named the conference's defensive player of the year.
Up Next - The winner plays at No. 8 seed South Dakota State (8-3) in the second round Dec. 3.
Prediction - These teams have two common opponents (Albany and Towson) and Saint Francis lost to both and Villanova beat both. Quite simply, the Wildcats are a higher-level team. Villanova 28-14.