Villanova's ability to win in Virginia will go a long way toward determining if the Wildcats will win at least a share of the Colonial Athletic Association football title.
The Wildcats are 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the CAA heading into the game Saturday at Richmond. The only other team unbeaten in CAA action is New Hampshire, which will not play Villanova this season.
As for playing in Virginia, the Wildcats had their toughest Football Championship Subdivision test this season when they won, 35-31, at William and Mary on Oct. 18.
Villanova expects an equally tough game against Richmond (6-2, 3-1). The Spiders' only losses were to Virginia and New Hampshire.
In this week's Sports Network FCS rankings, New Hampshire is No. 2, Villanova is fourth, Richmond is 13th, and William and Mary is 17th.
Villanova has won seven in a row since an opening, 27-26 loss at Syracuse in double overtime.
"This was one of the games we looked at going into the season," said Villanova quarterback John Robertson, who has thrown 25 touchdown passes and one interception. "We knew the Virginia games were going to be tough for us."
The first trip to Virginia couldn't have been tougher. Robertson hit Kevin Gulyas on a 13-yard scoring pass with 52 seconds left to earn the victory over William and Mary.
"This will be a tough game for us, very similar to William and Mary," Villanova coach Andy Talley said. "They are big and fast and have a lot of talent, and this is a turning-point game for us."
Richmond coach Danny Rocco has a similar appreciation of Villanova's personnel.
"Offensively, they have an awful lot of weapons," Rocco said this week in a conference call. "They are big and physical in the offensive line, have a great quarterback, great leaders, and find a way to make plays. Their skill at wide receiver and running back is probably as good [as there is] in the league as far as balance and depth."
Richmond's offensive depth will be tested. On Oct. 11, quarterback Michael Strauss suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Michael Rocco, the coach's nephew, who like Strauss is a former University of Virginia quarterback, is now Richmond's starter.
Rocco has appeared in all eight games and has thrown for 821 yards, three touchdowns, and five interceptions.
Rocco, who made 21 starts at Virginia, is the son of former Penn State quarterback Frank Rocco.
He set single-game career highs in attempts, completions, and yards during a 30-10 win last week over Elon, completing 21 of 33 passes for 296 yards.