CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. - It almost has become a weekly occurrence: Villanova's Chris Whitney is compared with the opposing team's quarterback.
It happened when the Wildcats faced Penn's Keiffer Garton, Delaware's Pat Devlin and Holy Cross' Dominic Randolph, among others. Now, Whitney is being compared with Montana's Andrew Selle.
That's a good sign for the 13-1 Wildcats. In every previous instance, Whitney has led Villanova to a victory.
He will look to do the same tonight in the Football Championship Subdivision's national championship against the 14-0 Grizzlies at Finley Stadium.
Whitney may not win any passing challenges with quarterbacks any time soon. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior is better suited for lowering his head and plowing over linebackers.
But his most telling statistic is Villanova's 21-3 record after he became the starter in the fourth game of the 2008 season.
"It's whatever it takes, no matter if it's me running for 100 yards and throwing for 60," said Whitney, who leads Villanova's explosive offense with 885 rushing yards (4.7 per carry) and six touchdowns. The St. Joe's Prep product also has 1,794 passing yards and 17 touchdowns, with four interceptions.
Selle, on the other hand, is more of a traditional quarterback. The senior has completed 197 of 321 passes for 2,692 yards and 25 touchdowns, with six picks. The 6-2, 219-pounder has thrown for 309 or more yards on three occasions this season.
"He's a stud," Montana running back Chase Reynolds said of Selle. "He sticks in there and pulls it through. He's a special guy."
Selle's teammates hope he has one more special game left. A win would mark Montana's third national championship in the former NCAA Division I-AA. It would also enable the Grizzlies to become the first undefeated FCS team since Marshall finished 15-0 in 1996.
But that's far from guaranteed.
Utilizing its 3-3-5 defense, Villanova plans to blitz Montana early and often.
"I've been watching a lot of film on them," Wildcats linebacker Osayi Osunde said of the Grizzlies. "I haven't seen them play anyone that blitzes as much as our team does.
"I think it's going to be a really big change-up that they're going to have to adjust, to actually stop us."
Montana's defense, on the other hand, will look to stop Whitney. That's something that rarely happens. The first-team all-Colonial Athletic Association selection wills his team to victories.
"I don't want to be stopped, whether it's me running or throwing," he said. "I don't want to be stopped on fourth down to get the first down. I don't want to be stopped getting into that end zone."
FCS Title Game
Who: Villanova vs. Montana.
What: Football Championship Subdivision national championship
When: Tonight at 8 o'clock.
Where: Finley Stadium, Chattanooga, Tenn.
TV/Radio: ESPN2; ESPN-AM (950).
Records: Villanova, 13-1; Montana, 14-0.
Coaches: Villanova, Andy Talley (25th season, 178-111-1); Montana, Bobby Hauck (7th season, 80-16).
Villanova update: The Wildcats are making their first FCS championship appearance. Wideout Matt Szczur, who will donate bone marrow next month, is an all-American. The junior has compiled 1,969 all-purpose yards and 13 touchdowns. He has also passed for two more scores. Villanova boasts the nation's third-ranked rushing defense, holding opponents to 67.21 yards per game. The Wildcats also have the fifth-ranked scoring defense (13.57 points per game).
Montana update: The Grizzlies are making their second consecutive and seventh FCS championship appearance. Montana won titles in 1995 and 2001. The Grizzlies boast the nation's top scoring offense, averaging 36.87 points per game. Their offensive line averages 6-foot-6 and 303.8 pounds. Junior running back Chase Reynolds' average of 102.71 rushing yards per game ranks eighth nationally. Senior wideout Marc Mariani is an all-American.
- Keith Pompey