Coach: Andy Talley (179-102-1 in 25 years at school; 207-120-2 in 30 seasons overall)
Last year: 14-1, 7-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association, FCS national champions
On the web: www.villanova.com
Ticket info: 610-519-4100
Worth watching: Matt Szczur might be the best player at this level. He catches, he runs, he returns kicks, and has been projected as a possible Wes Welker-type who could be a midround NFL draft pick. If, of course, he doesn't continue to pursue a baseball career with the Chicago Cubs . . . Chris Whitney has a knack for coming up with game-changing plays at quarterback, with both his arm and legs . . . Linebacker Terence Thomas is the CAA's preseason Defensive Player of the Year... Safety John Dempsey had 77 tackles (11 1/2 for losses), six sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions . . . As a freshman, Nick Yako converted 12 of 16 field goals.
Great unknown: How will the Wildcats respond to being the hunted? They're the target. Even Temple wants a piece of them. They've obviously been in a ton of monster tilts the past 2 years, but there's still a difference.
It all comes down to . . . : Staying healthy, and getting some breaks again. Or making your own. The 2008 team appeared just as capable, but a Hail Mary loss altered the scenario just enough. Last year, a missed field goal in the Wildcats' favor had a similar effect. And they started the same guys at the end as the beginning. You can't underestimate that.
Circle the dates: Oct. 2, at William & Mary. 'Cats beat W & M in last December's semifinals, at home by one. They'd also beaten the Tribe on the Main Line 2 months earlier, by 11, and have taken six straight in series. New Hampshire, the only team to beat 'Nova last season, is here on Nov. 13. Villanova won the playoff rematch by 39 in the snow. And at Delaware in the following week's finale always has potential, especially since 'Nova has won the last four meetings.
Number crunching: Five other CAA teams are ranked in the top 25, three in the top 10. Wildcats play all of them, three at home, where they've won 18 of the last 19 . . . Three seniors - Thomas, offensive lineman Ben Ijalana and guard Brant Clouser - have started all 39 games in their careers.