Villanova vs. Delaware Preview | The Battle of the Blue 2023
Written by David Szczepanski on November 18, 2023
With a chance to win the CAA title and secure a playoff spot, #10 Villanova takes a trip down I-95 to battle #7 Delaware on Saturday afternoon at 1pm.
All Time Series Background
The Wildcats and Blue Hens are both 8-2 with one loss in CAA play. Villanova leads the all-time series in the Battle of the Blue, 33-22-1. Coach Mark Ferrante has won five of his six matches against the Delaware Blue Hens. The Wildcats are 16-10-1 in games against Delaware hosted at the University of Delaware. In fact, the Wildcats have won their last eight games at Delaware Stadium. Villanova and Delaware also played each other in two matches at Subaru Park in Chester, which they split.
Villanova’s Five Game Winning Streak
The Wildcats are coming off a confident win against Towson, 33-10, which featured great plays from Connor Watkins and Rayjuon Pringle. Delaware also had a blowout win in their last game against Campbell. Delaware’s only CAA loss was against Elon.
Connor Watkins and Rayjuon Pringle
Connor Watkins has been excellent in his second season as starting quarterback for the Wildcats. He now has six career passes for 75+ yards. No other Villanova quarterback had more than four. Watkins ranks first in the CAA and FCS in yards per completion (18.04) and yards per pass attempt (10.4). Rayjuon Pringle ranks eighth on the Villanova receiving yards all-time list with 2,444. Pringle has 892 receiving yards this season with four 100+ yard games this season. He averages 27.9 yards per catch.
Wildcats’ Rushing Attack
In addition to a strong passing game led by Watkins and Pringle, Villanova has also been tremendous at running the football this season. Jalen Jackson, DeeWil Barlee, and TD Ayo-Durojaiye have all played a huge role in the offensive success. Jackson has 703 rushing yards this season over 112 carries with six touchdowns. Barlee has 84 carries for 538 yards and four touchdowns. Ayo-Durojaiye has 78 carries for 416 yards and seven touchdowns. He also has 148 receiving yards and one touchdown reception. With an efficient passing game and rushing attack, the Wildcats lead the CAA and rank 14th nationally with a 45.8% conversion rate on third downs.
Villanova’s Stellar Defense
Villanova’s defense limited Towson to just 211 total yards. The Wildcats’ defense is ranked 1st in the CAA in total yards and first downs allowed. They average 289.6 total yards against them, which also ranks 6th in the FCS. Brendan Bell leads Villanova with 61 total tackles.
Delaware averages 34.9 points per game. The Blue Hens also average 160 rushing yards per game compared to Villanova’s 222 rushing yards per game: however, Delaware averages about 60 more passing yards per game than Villanova. Both teams are very similar defensively too, but Villanova has the edge in that category.
Blue Hens’ Passing Game
The Blue Hens are led by QB, Ryan O’ Connor. O’Connor has 142 completions for 1,860 yards this season. He has thrown for 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. Zach Marker has also played in four games at quarterback for Delaware, especially when O’Connor missed some time. Marker has thrown for 651 yards and three touchdowns. Delaware has 2,744 total passing yards this season with 21 total passing touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Jordan Townsend and Joshua Youngblood lead Delaware’s receiving core. Townsend has 36 receptions for 550 yards and three touchdowns. He averages 55 yards per game. Youngblood leads Delaware in receiving touchdowns with six. Jojo Bermudez also has 25 receptions for 277 yards this season.
Yarns and the Delaware Rushing Attack
Delaware has 1,603 total rushing yards this season. They have 22 rushing touchdowns. Marcus Yarns has 100 carries for 749 yards and 14 of those 22 touchdowns. He averages 75 rushing yards per game. Kyron Cumby also has 57 carries for 394 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Delaware’s opponents have accumulated 1,405 rushing yards against them with just nine touchdowns.
CAA Playoff Picture and Tiebreakers
There are many playoff implications and tiebreaker scenarios for first place in the CAA. UAlbany, Villanova, Delaware, and Richmond all have a chance to win the CAA and/or earn an automatic spot in the FCS playoffs.
Here are the tiebreaker scenarios:
If UAlbany, Richmond, and Villanova finish 7-1 in CAA play, Villanova would win the CAA based on point differential in conference games as of right now. Villanova is currently +96 and UAlbany is +92. Richmond is far behind with +58. There is a 21-point maximum per game differential.
If UAlbany and Villanova finish 7-1, UAlbany wins the CAA with their win against the Wildcats.
If Richmond and Villanova finish tied, the Wildcats would win the CAA based on the same rules explained in scenario #1.
Obviously, Villanova must defeat Delaware to have a chance.
Although both teams have effective offenses, I think this game will be a defensive and low scoring battle. Both teams are holding opponents to less than 20 points on average per game. The Battle of the Blue has tremendous implications with both teams 8-2 and in position to have a chance at the CAA title.
WXVU Coverage at Delaware Stadium
WXVU has live coverage from Delaware Stadium beginning at 12:30pm with the pregame show followed by kickoff at 1pm.