The Albany Great Danes joined the CAA in 2012, formally beginning competitive play in 2013. Because they didn't meet last season, this will be the first ever conference game between Albany and Villanova. In their first season, the Danes went 1-11 (0-8 CAA) to finish at the bottom of the conference.
This year has brought renewed hope - the Danes started 4-0 and briefly entered the Top 25 before the tough part of their schedule hit. They've since gone 2-4 and have lost two straight games to New Hampshire and Delaware. It's not a game that should strike fear in to 'Nova fans, especially at home, but Albany has been feisty this year.
Here are three things to know about the Danes:
Omar Osbourne is one of the better RBs in the CAA
The senior is coming off a 1200 yard rushing season in 2013 for a team that won just a game. He's actually averaging slightly more yards per carry this year and will likely cross the 1000 yard plateau against Villanova (he comes in with 981 yards).
Despite that success between the tackles, he has reached the end zone just four times on the year. He's the workhorse to move the chains. A week after Darius Victor got plenty of yards against Villanova, Osbourne will be licking his chops to do the same.
Their gunslinger QB will put up the points
Will Fiacchi is in his third season as the starting quarterback, and is having his best season to date as a senior. His 21-7 TD:INT ratio is impressive even if he's completing just 54% of his passes (the lowest of his career). Having already thrown for over 2000 yards, it's easy to see that Fiacchi doesn't have a lot of concern about slinging the ball all over the field.
Keep an eye on the 'Nova pass rush - Fiacchi has already taken 27 sacks on the season and isn't much of a threat to run. If they can stuff Osbourne early and force Albany in to passing mode, they should be able to apply consistent pressure.
The defense won't stop John Robertson & Co.
During that 4-game win streak (against weak competition) to open the year, the Danes allowed just 10 points per game. In the 6 games since, they're just a shade below 30 points per game allowed. Respected offenses at James Madison, Richmond and New Hampshire have put up 31, 41 and 49 points respectively.
Averaging a CAA-best 38.5 points per game, John Robertson should find it pretty easy to find the end zone on Saturday night. If the Danes have any hopes of winning this game, they'll likely need to outscore the 'Cats. Don't bank on that happening.