While the outlook isn't as rosy as it was before the season started, Villanova coach Andy Talley is still excited about what may lie ahead for his football team.
"What I told our team is I just want to play in a significant game at the end of the year and hopefully we are still in business -- and we are," Talley said Wednesday.
The Wildcats have won three straight games after kicker Gerard Smith's extra point lifted them to a 21-20 victory over then-No. 9 Richmond last week. And on Saturday, when they play their season finale at James Madison (8-2, 5-2), the Wildcats could find themselves in a three-way tie for the Colonial Athletic Association crown.
If Richmond (7-3, 5-2) beats William and Mary (8-2, 6-1) and 'Nova wins, there would be a three-way tie.
The CAA has crowned multiple champions 10 times in the last 15 years. Twice during that stretch there were four teams sharing the title. A tiebreaking process is used to determine the league's automatic qualifier in the 24-team Football Championship Subdivision tournament.
The Wildcats reached the FCS quarterfinals last year. They had postseason hopes again before this season, but after quarterback John Robertson was lost to a knee injury and the team started 3-4, the expectations were lowered.
However, a three-game winning streak has Talley and the Wildcats excited again.
"We're selling our players on the fact that we are playing for a league championship and a playoff spot, and that's enough," Talley said. "It pretty much says it all. We have a lot of motivation to get down to JMU and try to win the game."
Villanova's defense has made the difference for most of this season, especially during the three-game winning streak. The Wildcats held Maine and Rhode Island without touchdowns. Richmond came into last week's game averaging more than 36 points per game.
James Madison leads the conference in scoring (42.3 points per game). However, it has played the last three games without injured quarterback Vad Lee (foot). The Dukes had lost two games in a row without him before defeating Delaware, 24-21, last week.
"Our defense has been solid for us all season long," Talley said. "We're going to ask them to come up big for us again this week against a team that leads the conference in scoring. If we can do that and maybe reduce the game to an extra point or field goal, then I believe we're in business."
This article was written by John N. Mitchell from The Philadelphia Inquirer and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.