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Know Thy Foe: Villanova Wildcats

Timmy McClain takes the reins for UCF

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 01 Villanova at Temple Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The UCF Knights are back home at 2-0 after last week’s win at Boise State, but not without some cost: John Rhys Plumlee is out with a knee injury, but former South Florida starter and Seminole High star Timmy McClain takes over at quarterback, with an eye ongetting UCF to conference play at 3-0.

Standing in their way: The 2-0 FCS Villanova Wildcats.

Here we go:

Week 3: Villanova Wildcats

Kickoff: Saturday, September 16, 6:30 p.m. ET

Where: FBC Mortgage Stadium

TV: Big XII Now/ESPN+ — Drew Fellios (PxP) and Forrest Conoly

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game — Marc Daniels (PxP), Gary Parris (analyst) and Scott Adams (sideline)


Series: UCF leads, 1-0

Last Meeting: 2006 — 35-16, UCF

That game opened UCF’s second season in Conference USA and snapped an eight-game losing streak for UCF in season openers at the time.

About the Wildcats

Last Season: 6-5, 4-4 and 8th out of 14 teams in the Colonial — now Coastal — Athletic Association.

This Season: 2-0, #24 in the latest StatsPerform FCS Poll (Picked 7th in the CAA Preseason)

Last Week: Beat Colgate, 42-19.

  • Villanova last made the FCS Playoffs in 2021, losing in the quarterfinals to South Dakota State.
  • They’ve been to the FCS Playoffs eight of the last 14 seasons and won their only national title in 2009.

Head Coach

Villanova v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Mark Ferrante

7th year | 39-26

Ferrante was the O-Line coach under Andy Talley for 29 years before taking over when Talley retired in 2017. He has taken Villanova to the FCS Playoffs twice.

Fun Fact: Talley cached ‘Nova for 31 years (1985-2016) and took it to its first and so far only national title after re-starting the program in 1985 after it was shut down five years before that.

Key Players

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 17 Villanova at Army
Villanova QB Connor Watkins
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Offense: QB Connor Watkins

6-3 Grad Student | Williamsport, PA

Watkins enters year two as the starter after throwing for 2,057 yards (16 TD/11 INT) and running for 467 (9 TD) in 2022. He set a school record for the fewest completions (8) in a 300-yard passing game in school history in last week’s win over Colgate.

Last week vs. Colgate: 8/11, 310 yards (!) 2 TDs, plus 29 yards on 10 carries and two rushing TDs.

Syndication: Wilmington News Journal
Villanova LB Shane Hartzell (31)
William Bretzger/Delaware News Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Defense: LB Shane Hartzell

6-0 225-lb. Sophomore | Perkasie, PA

Hartzell is the Wildcats’ leading returning tackler from 2022, with 74 tackles, 9 TFLs and four sacks. He’s he leading tackler again this year with 14 total tackles and one sack through the first two games.

Last Week vs. Colgate: 7 tackles (3 solo), one TFL, one sack, two hurries.

In case you were wondering...

UCF is 0-2 all-time against Villanova in Men’s Basketball.

The last meeting was in November of 2016, when UCF lost by 10 to the then-#3-ranked defending national champions in a tournament in Charleston, South Carolina.

Tacko Fall had 20 points, 13 rebounds and went 10/10 from the field. Josh Hart, now with the Knicks, led Villanova with 15.

The first meeting was in the 2007 Old Spice Classic at Disney, a 76-68 Wildcats win.