Four programs remain undefeated in the Football Championship Subdivision, and No. 3 Towson (6-0 overall and 2-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association) is one of those teams. No. 15 Villanova (3-2, 2-0) will try to evict the Tigers from the ranks of the unbeaten when the league rivals meet Saturday at 7 p.m. at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson.
Wildcats coach Andy Talley is fully aware of the difficulty of that assignment.
"They're a terrifically talented football team with talent across the board," Talley said Monday on the conference teleconference. "And we've had some great teams here. We've had good balance on offense and defense, and they have that. So when you're playing a team of their caliber at their place on national TV, I think you need to go into the game pretty much thinking that you've got to play your best game of the year and you just can't turn it over. And you need to have them earn everything that they get. No cheap touchdown passes, no long runs. We've got to make them earn what they get because I'm sure we're going to have to earn everything that we get. But we've been in big games here before at Villanova. We've played Division I teams. So we're looking forward to a big game on national television. So we'll be there."
After dropping five of the first seven meetings, the Tigers have beaten Villanova in the last two years, winning 31-10 on Sept. 10, 2011 and 49-35 on Oct. 27. But Talley said he had no intention of using last year's loss as motivation for Saturday's showdown.
"They were a really good team last year that unfortunately did not get into the playoffs," he said. "I think the score was 35-35 midway into the fourth quarter, and they just broke it open. You can't win games like that where you're giving up 35 points. So we've got to come in hoping that we can play better defense than that."
Towson coach Rob Ambrose similarly expressed admiration for a Wildcats program that captured the 2009 national championship, won six conference titles and made 10 NCAA postseason appearances in Talley's 29 years there.
"They're incredibly talented, and everybody knows this," Ambrose said. "Go find a skill position and you're going to find one of the best players in the whole conference at that position, and they're extremely well coached in all three aspects of the game. There's a reason Andy has been there as long as he has and they have been as successful as they have. It's not just a great team, it's a great program. You can point to the individual players. The entire defensive line is – impressive would be insulting. You've got to come up with a better word than that. Their quarterback is one of the best players in the league – if not the country. They have skill players abound everywhere. It's one of the few teams in America where they get beat up by injuries and the guys just step up and they never miss a beat. So is there an individual aspect about this team that bothers me? No. They are truly an impressive ballclub. Another week in the CAA, but they're one of the best."