Football Opens Season Saturday against #2 Villanova

Game Day Central

Game Notes

Press Conference Quotes from each Head Coach

PHILADELPHIA - Penn welcomes in the highest ranked team it has ever faced when the Villanova Wildcats come to Franklin Field for the Quakers' season opener Saturday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. The game is telecast on the Comcast Network with the radio broadcast on WFIL 560 AM.

Catching the Game
Comcast Network (CN8). Check local listings, channel 8 for the majority of Comcast subscribers in the Philadelphia area. Scott Graham will provide the play-by-play with Jon Ritchie as the analyst.
WNTP 990 AM will carry the game for the Quakers. Brian Seltzer and Hench Murray will team up as the Penn broadcast crew for the second straight season with Seltzer supplying the play-by-play and Murray serving as the analyst for the 27th year in a row.
Live Stats: Live stats will be provided on as well as a full recap and box score at the conclusion of the game. Live stats can be found here.

The Series
If history is any indicator, tonight should be a close one. The last four meetings on this field between these two schools have come down to the final possession. In all, Villanova leads Penn in the series 8-5, including 6-5 at Franklin Field. The Quakers claimed the first five matchups (1905-11) between the schools, but the Wildcats have dominated as of late, winning the last eight meetings since 1980. This is the sixth-straight year the two teams have met.

Last Time Out
One year ago, it took more than four quarters to decide this matchup. After allowing an opening drive touchdown, the Penn defense was phenomenal. Of the four interceptions thrown by the Wildcats, three of them were picked off in the end zone. Penn held a brief 14-7 lead in the second quarter, but Villanova tied it on the next possession. The score remained 14-14 into the overtime session, where the Wildcats scored on the opening possession. But the extra point was blocked, giving the Quakers a shot to win the game with a touchdown and an extra point. However, a fumble on Penn’s first play from scrimmage ended the game. See page 12 for a complete box score from last season’s matchup.

Ranked Foes
For the second consecutive season, Penn plays host to city-rival Villanova in its season opener at Franklin Field. And for the second straight year, the Wildcats are nationally ranked. However, Villanova enters this Schuylkill Showdown ranked No. 2 in the nation—becoming the highest ranked team the Quakers have faced since the FCS (I-AA) rankings began in 1978. Since the inception of FCS (I-AA) rankings in 1978, the Quakers have never played a team ranked as high as the Wildcats’ No. 2 position in The Sports Network’s Top 25. Below is a list of Penn’s results with ranked opponents since 2000.

L, 21-24 vs. #19 Harvard (Nov. 15, 2008).
L, 14-20 (ot) vs. #19 Villanova (Sept. 20, 2008)
L, 20-26 (3ot) vs. #16 Yale (Oct. 20, 2007).
L, 7-8 vs. #25 Lafayette (Sept. 15, 2007).
W, 22-13 vs. #17 Harvard (Nov. 11, 2006).
L, 30-31 (2ot) at #23 Princeton (Nov. 4, 2006).
W, 21-11 at #22 Lafayette (Sept. 15, 2006).
L, 20-34 at #18 Brown (Oct. 29, 2005).
L, 13-16 vs. #11 Villanova (Sept. 25, 2004) - Penn was #22.
W, 31-24 at #19 Lehigh (Sept. 27, 2003) - Penn was #21.
L, 3-17 at #6 Villanova (Oct. 10, 2002)
Prior to 2000 (also in the Bagnoli era):
L, 34-48 vs. #18 William & Mary (Oct. 14, 1995).
W, 30-14 vs. #16 Princeton (Nov. 6, 1993).

Under the Lights
Tonight’s 7 p.m. kickoff marks the first night game at Franklin Field since the 2007 season opener against Lafayette. The Quakers lost that matchup when the Leopards split the uprights in the waning seconds for an 8-7 win. In all, the stadium lights have not been kind to the Quakers since head coach Al Bagnoli took over in 1992. Penn has gone 4-9 (.308) in night games since then, losing the last six. In comparison, Bagnoli is 110-45 (.710) in day games. Penn’s last night time win was against Duquesne on Sept. 20, 2003. The 51-10 home victory propelled the team to an Ivy title that season.

Let the Games Begin
Penn has been superb in season openers in its 132-year history. The Quakers are 101-30-1 (.769) all-time in season openers and are even better in home openers at 104-27-1 (.792). Under the longest tenured head coach in team history—Al Bagnoli—Penn is 11-6 in the first game of the year and has an identical record in home openers during that span.

Up Next
Penn will play another night game. This time on the road as they travel to Eaton, Pa., to take on Lafayette. The two teams kick off at 6 p.m. next Saturday. It is the same place and time as the 2008 matchup won by the Leopards, 24-17. Penn—at Dartmouth on Oct. 3—doesn’t return home until Oct. 10 (vs. Bucknell, 1 p.m.).

Download: 1-Villanova.pdf