#4 Villanova Wildcats (6-1) vs. Morgan State Bears (4-3)
When: Saturday, October 25, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Villanova Stadium
Morgan State’s Previous Record: 5-7
Key Players for Morgan State: #3 Herb Walker Jr. (5-8, 180) Fr., RB; #15 Robert Council (6-4, 215) Sr., QB; #1 Orlando Johnson (5-8, 150) Fr., WR/KR; #55 Christopher Robinson (6-2, 220) Sr., DE; #5 Cody Acker (6-1, 220) Sr., LB
Scouting Report: Morgan State has a Walter Payton Award candidate of their own in Herb Walker Jr. Since being bottled up by Eastern Michigan (only nine rushing yards off of five carries) in Week 1, the freshman running back has compiled 971 yards and nine touchdowns. Walker Jr. has scored at least one touchdown in the last six games. He has also rushed for over 100 yards in five games, with two of those games being 200+ yard performances. He is a speedy, athletic back who has tremendous upside for his collegiate career. He is the heart and soul of the Bears’ spread option offense. Walker Jr. gets about 20-25 carries a game in the run-heavy attack. While opposing defenses gear up to stop him, they tend to forget about quarterback Robert Council. Council is a true dual-threat quarterback. He can get the job done with his arm but if the opportunity presents itself, he will take off. Through seven games, he has completed 44.6% of his passes for 791 yards, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also adds 508 rushing yards and six touchdowns off of 104 carries. Although it is worth nothing that Council is a much better scrambler/runner than he is as a passer. He will often hurt opposing teams with his legs than his arm. Together, Walker Jr. and Council make a formidable tandem in the backfield; leading them to the 11th best rushing offense in all of the FCS. The rest of the players at skill positions on offense are rather forgettable. However, do keep an eye on wide receivers Orlando Johnson and Thomas Martin. Johnson is listed as a wide receiver, but he’ll also take some carries on the ground. He is also a decent kick returner. On the other hand, Martin leads the team in receiving yards and touchdowns. While his numbers aren’t impressive, he’s definitely one of Council’s top targets. They boast a big offensive line, averaging 6′ 3″ and 320 pounds. Only one starting offensive lineman is under 300 pounds. Defensively, they’re a solid team. Their three losses were heartbreakers, as they’ve never lost for more than three points. They do a good job of containing opponents, holding them to averages of 20 points per game, 150 passing yards and 199 rushing yards per game. Christopher Robinson will anchor the defensive line. The pass rushing fiend has accounted for 11 sacks and 13 tackles for loss so far this season. Second-year starter Cody Acker has done well leading the defensive unit. The hard hitting linebacker leads the team in tackles, with 64. He has a nose for the ball and often involved on every defensive play. Their defensive backs are quick, but do not post the impressive numbers to back that up. However, they should not be overlooked. They’ve only given up two passing touchdowns this season and have forced a total of four interceptions.
Outlook: It all starts and ends with Herb Walker Jr. If Villanova wants to win this game, they’re going to have to shut down Walker Jr. The Wildcats gave up quite a bit on the ground to William & Mary last week, but I’m sure they’ve beefed up their front lines for this week. Morgan State is a formidable opponent, despite what their record is. However, they haven’t faced an offense like Villanova’s yet. The Wildcats haven’t won a homecoming game since 2010. This will be the year they get back on track. They should be able to score without major problems and shut down the one-dimensional offense. It wouldn’t surprise me though if Morgan State tries to play ball control offense to keep Villanova off the field, that could throw a wrench into their plans.
Prediction: Villanova 35, Morgan State 17