The Villanova Wildcats have been here before.
As they became victorious on the turf at Delaware Stadium on Saturday, it was far from an unfamiliar scene of celebration (VU has not lost at UD since 2004). But the fruits of the 21-13 win over rival Delaware, secured in the final minutes of regulation by a goal-line stand, have been enjoyed less frequently by the winning squad from the Pennsylvania Main Line.
With the triumph, Nova secured its first CAA Football championship since 2012 and the conference’s automatic bid to the FCS playoffs by virtue of its head-to-head, tiebreaking win over James Madison. The ‘Cats finished up their first minimum-seven-conference-win season since 2014. In doing so, they can count on being rewarded with a seed and corresponding first-round bye when the postseason bracket is unveiled Sunday.
The Battle of the Blue trophy’s return to Villanova after Delaware swiped it with a win in the spring season is very meaningful to the Wildcats, particularly fifth- and sixth-year seniors. Yet it symbolizes a bigger picture for VU.
Regularly a playoff contender and qualifier, it’s not new for Nova to have Selection Sunday plans. To have the CAA Football title, previously hogged by JMU and most recently by Delaware, entering the selection show in which it will likely be revealed that the Wildcats have Thanksgiving week off, is a program breakthrough.
With JMU FBS-bound, there will soon be a vacancy atop the CAA totem pole. If Villanova hopes to scale to its peak post-Dukes-era, as its resume suggests it is capable of, this postseason is a quality place to start. With the projected first-round bye will come home field in the second round. In Nova’s 2019 playoff appearance, its first-round trek to Southeastern Louisiana ended in heartbreaking fashion, a 45-44 agonizing defeat. The Wildcats should fair better in the friendly confines of Villanova Stadium, where they have suffered just one loss this season.
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