‘Battle of the Blue’ will conclude football regular season

Pat Ralph

After a huge 48-31 victory over Albany this past weekend in their final home game of the season, the No. 6 Wildcats’ football team (9-2 overall, 6-1 in CAA play) travels to face arch nemesis Delaware in the final game of the regular season, this Saturday at noon. 

As any avid college football fan would know, the “Battle of the Blue” rivalry between the Wildcats and Blue Hens is one of the longest-running traditions in all of collegiate athletics. 

The first-ever meeting between these academic institutions happened Nov. 23, 1895 at Villanova, when the Blue Hens scraped out a 10-6 victory.

The rivalry officially became an annual occurrence in 1962, when the ’Cats pulled off a 22-10 road win over Delaware. The Wildcats lead the overall series 25-21-1, as Villanova has won the previous two meetings in this rivalry. 

Last year’s clash at PPL Park in Chester was particularly memorable, as the Wildcats rallied from behind to capture a 35-34 victory to wrap up the 2013 season. 

The 2014 edition of this historic rivalry should not disappoint, as both teams will be looking to close out the regular season on a high note. 

The MVP of this Wildcats team this season has no doubt been junior quarterback John Robertson, who had a season-high 393 yards of total offense and five total touchdowns this past weekend against Albany.

Outside of their disappointing road loss against Richmond, the ’Cats offense has been unstoppable thanks to the leadership and playmaking abilities of Robertson. 

Robertson’s ability to control both the running and passing games makes him an incredibly difficult threat for the Blue Hens’ defense this Saturday.

Fortunately for Robertson, the Wildcats have plenty of other playmakers who have stepped up big this season. Senior running back Kevin Monangai rushed for over 100 yards and a score on Senior Night this past Saturday night. 

Even with the injury to junior running back Gary Underwood, the ’Cats have excelled at running the football, which will be a key as they enter the playoffs in the coming weeks. 

Robertson can pass the ball as well as he wants, but the Wildcats’ ability to control the line of scrimmage and run the football will be even more important to a deep playoff run. 

Even more important than its play on offense will be Villanova’s defensive performance. While the ’Cats did sacrifice 31 points against Albany, the defense forced three fumbles in the contest. 

The Wildcats’ defense has been impressive the entire season, but it will need to step up to a whole new level as the playoffs approach. 

Delaware (6-5 overall, 4-3 in CAA play) enters Saturday’s contest coming off a 43-14 defeat at the hands of No. 1 New Hampshire. Like Villanova, the Blue Hens also have victories over Albany, Rhode Island and James Madison this season. 

Saturday’s game could be another opportunity for the Wildcats’ offense to do some damage, as Delaware’s defense has struggled to keep opposing offenses in check so far this season. In addition, one of the Blue Hens’ biggest problems this season has been turning the ball over. 

Opposing defenses have 13 interceptions against Delaware and have converted Delaware’s turnovers into a total of 141 points. 

The importance of playing a clean game with few of turnovers and penalties as possible cannot be stressed enough, and this could be a great opportunity for the Wildcats’ defense to flex its muscles. 

If the Wildcats can play an all-around strong game on the both sides of the football this Saturday, Villanova could be walking away with a third straight victory in the Battle of the Blue rivalry. 

The clash for the Battle of the Blue Trophy can be heard at noon this Saturday on CBS Sports Radio 610 AM.