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Could Villanova's football team beat Notre Dame?

The Wildcats are ranked 11 places above the Fighting Irish in Jeff Sagarin's rankings.

As Villanova's football team prepares to face William & Mary in the I-AA playoff semifinals tonight, I thought it would be cool to take a look at just how high the Wildcats have risen in Jeff Sagarin's computer ratings.

'Nova is ranked No. 37, and is the highest-ranked I-AA team by 12 spots. The Tribe are the second-highest-ranked I-AA team at No. 49. In tonight's game, Sagarin predicts the Wildcats to win by six points: 77.63 and 3.20 to 75.17.

(The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and kick off at 8:00, in case you're near a TV. If you're near the Main Line, it should be a fun game to attend despite the cold.)

To understand just how high Villanova's ranking really is, consider the teams below them. MAC champion Central Michigan is No. 38, Boston College is No. 39 and Kentucky is No. 40.

That's all well and good, right? Then how about Connecticut at No. 41, Washington (which beat USC) at No. 42 or Florida State (44), Kansas (65), Northwestern (68) and Michigan (84) are all below the Wildcats as well.

But wait, there's more. Villanova is 11 places higher in Sagarin's rankings than Notre Dame. If the two teams met on a neutral field, Sagarin would favor the Wildcats by two points: 77.63 to 75.66.

Consider that if the two schools' men's basketball programs met on a neutral floor, Sagarin would favor Villanova by seven points: 89.17 to 2.23.

And there's this: if Penn State played Villanova on a neutral field, the No. 20-ranked Nittany Lions would be favored by only four points: 81.53 to 77.63.

Think that would ever happen?

If you believe in the transitive theory of victories, how about this: Villanova beat Temple, which beat Navy, which beat Notre Dame, which beat Washington, which beat USC, which beat Ohio State, which beat Penn State.

Yeah, I know. But you get the idea.

I'll be back tomorrow to blog live from the Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field. has a special Army-Navy preview page that features stories from the Inquirer and Daily News, video features and archive photos from past games. You should definitely check it out.