2023 Colgate vs Villanova

Villanova Football In 2023: What To Know About The Wildcats

Villanova Football In 2023: What To Know About The Wildcats

The Villanova football team returns to action in 2023 as a member of the CAA. Here’s what to know about the program.

Aug 16, 2023 by Matt Cannizzaro

Villanova is a perennial contender on the gridiron, so the team’s performance in 2022 could be considered an off year, especially after the Wildcats earned a share of the Coastal Athletic Association title and made the playoffs in 2021.

Yes, the Wildcats finished the 2022 season above .500 at 6-5 overall, but their 4-4 mark in CAA play left them well off the pace of a fourth CAA title.

Villanova has had a winning record against CAA opponents 11 times since the conference began playing in 2007. The Wildcats have only had three losing seasons in that span and finished at .500 one other time. 

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Head coach Mark Ferrante will lead Villanova for the seventh year and look to get the Wildcats back to their winning ways.

CAA Football returns eight programs that finished with winning records in 2023. That includes William & Mary, which went 11-2 overall and tied with New Hampshire atop the CAA standings with a 7-1 record. 

CAA football action will be streamed live on FloFootball and the FloSports app, including all of Villanova’s CAA games.

Here’s What To Know About Villanova Football:

What Year Did Villanova Start Playing Football?

The storied history of Villanova football began in 1894. 

The Wildcats played their first official game and picked up their first win, a 24-0 victory over the Logan Athletic Association. It was the only game of their inaugural season. 

Their first intercollegiate game came the following season, and the result was a 12-0 win over Hahneman College.

After the 1980 season, the Villanova football program went on a hiatus due to weak attendance and other financial reasons. The team did not play from 1981-1984 but was reinstated for the 1985 season, playing a limited schedule at the Division III level.

When Did Villanova Join Division I College Football? 

Villanova played as an independent team for nearly a century, before joining CAA predecessor Yankee Conference in time for the 1988 season, which also meant a jump back to Division I-AA/FCS level.

How Many Times Has Villanova Football Made It To The FCS Playoffs?

It only took a few seasons back in action for the Wildcats to advance to the Division I-AA/FCS playoffs. The second iteration of the team made the postseason in 1989, the Wildcats’ first appearance in nearly 30 years. They lost to eventual national champion Georgia Southern in the first round.

Villanova has been to the FCS Playoffs 14 times since returning to action, and they’re 13-13 in those games. They’ve been to at least the semifinals three times and won the national title in 2009, defeating Montana in the title game, 23-21.

When Did Villanova Football Join The CAA?

The Villanova football team transitioned from the Yankee Conference (1987-1997) to the Atlantic 10 Conference (1997-2006) to CAA Football, which kicked off in 2007.

Villanova competes in the Big East for every sport except football.

Has Villanova Football Ever Won The CAA title?


Villanova has stood atop the CAA standings three times – 2009 (shared with Richmond), 2012 (shared with Richmond, New Hampshire and Towson) and 2021 (shared with James Madison).

Prior to the creation of the CAA, Villanova picked up two titles in the Yankee Conference (1989, 1991) and two in the Atlantic 10 Conference (1997, 2001).

Where Does The Villanova Football Team Play?

Villanova Stadium is nearly 100 years old. It was built in 1927 and is the home for Villanova’s football, field hockey, lacrosse, and track & field teams.

The playing field was dedicated as Goodreau Field in 1930 by the classmates of Leo J. Goodreau, a football player who was injured during practice in 1928 and died a few days later.

The track later was named after the school’s legendary track & field coach, James Jumbo Elliot.

The facilities have seen some renovations over the last 25 years, and the seating capacity is 12,500.

Who Is The Villanova Football Head Coach?

Mark Ferrante is the head football coach at Villanova. He assumed the position for the 2017 season, and he’s entering his seventh year at the helm. In all, he has spent nearly four decades in the Villanova program.

His most successful year as the head coach came in 2021, as the Wildcats claimed a share of the CAA title and made the FCS Playoffs, while Ferrante was named CAA Football Coach of the Year and the AFCA FCS Region 1 Coach of the Year.

Ferrante is 37-26 during his current stint with the Wildcats.

Prior to becoming the head coach, Ferrante was an assistant with the Wildcats from 1987-2016. He was named FCS Assistant Coach of the Year in 2015.

Ferrante’s coaching career began at St. Lawrence in 1983, which came shortly after his playing career there ended. He was a quarterback at St. Lawrence and was named the Division III Player of the Year in 1982.

He then worked at Wagner (1984) and Lafayette (1985-1986).

Who Is Villanova Football’s Biggest Rival? 

Villanova and Delaware have been in each other’s lives almost since the beginning—they first played each other in 1895, which was Villanova football’s second year in existence. Delaware won that first meeting, 10-6.

The two campuses are just 45 miles apart, so that adds to the excitement and tension. 

Their meeting in 2022 was the 56th in their history, which included annual battles from 1964-1980, after which, the Villanova team disbanded. The rivalry was renewed in 1988, and the teams have played every year since. 

Since 2007, their matchup took on the formal name, the Battle of the Blue, and the winning team gets to keep the Battle of the Blue Trophy. Villanova won the first four installments under the moniker and has won all but two times since the change.

Villanova won the 2022 edition with a late surge, using two blocked punts to fuel a 29-26 victory. 

Where Is Villanova University?

Villanova University is located in Villanova, Pennsylvania, and was founded in 1842 as the Augustinian College of Villanova. 

Since the beginning, it has been sponsored by the Augustinian Order of the Roman Catholic Church, with its origins traced back to Saint Augustine’s Academy at Saint Augustine’s Church in Philadelphia.

After opening and closing a number of times, the school has been open continuously since September 1865. The school was male-only until 1918.

Villanova achieved university status in 1953.

Notable Villanova Alums

  • Bradley Cooper (Award-winning actor)
  • Jill Biden (United States First Lady)
  • Jim Croce (singer, musician)
  • Howie Long (former NFL star)
  • Toby Keith (country singer)
  • Peter Doocy (journalist)

More than three dozen Villanova football players have been drafted into the NFL, and almost 90 have played professionally. The most recent draftee was cornerback Christian Benford during the 2022 NFL Draft (Buffalo Bills). He was the first Wildcat to be drafted since 2017.

Villanova Football Schedule 2023 

  • Sept. 2: at Lehigh, noon ET
  • Sept. 9: Colgate, 6 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Sept. 16: at University of Central Florida, 6:30 p.m. ET
  • Sept. 23: Rhode Island, 2 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Sept. 30: at UAlbany, 3:30 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Oct. 7: at North Carolina A&T, 4 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Oct. 14: Elon, 1 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Oct. 28: Stony Brook, 2 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Nov. 4: at New Hampshire, 1 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Nov. 11: Towson, 1 p.m. ET, FloSports
  • Nov. 18: at Delaware, 1 p.m. ET, FloSports