For the first time since 2010, the Blue Hens host an NCAA football playoff game at Delaware Stadium, welcoming Sacred Heart to Newark Saturday night.
This will be the second all-time matchup between the schools. Sacred Heart defeated the Hens 10-7 in Newark in 2014.
Sacred Heart features a strong running attack led by Julius Chestnut - the FCS leader in rushing yards per game. He enters Saturday night’s battle averaging over 179 yards per game.
UD defensive back Nijuel Hill says the defense is ready for the challenge.
"We're not changing anything up. We're going to just treat this game like the most important game because it's the next game," said Hill. "We're going to do what we do on defense. I feel like our defense has proven that we are one of the better defenses not only in our conference but in the nation."
Hens head coach Danny Rocco says his defense just has to tackle well.
"So for me it starts with a mindset. We gotta club, wrap up every time," said Rocco. "It's no hit them hard. Hitting them hard does not knock down, we have to want to tackle him."
UD touts its own strong running game led by Dejoun Lee, who is averaging 6.5 yards per attempt. Lee is a Walter Payton Offensive Player of the Year award finalist.
Meanwhile, several thousand football fans will be on hand when the Blue Hens return to Delaware Stadium to host their first NCAA playoff game since 2010.
Up to 4,100 people are allowed for FCS playoff showdown with Sacred Heart, which is also UD’s first home game in over a month.
It’s the largest number of fans the university has been permitted to host during this COVID delayed and shortened season.
Hill says the team is excited to play in front of the home crowd.
"It's most definitely going to be a lot of excitement especially playing under the lights," said Hill. "For one, we haven't been at home in, I think Coach Rocco said it was about six weeks. So just to be able to get back in front of fans, I know they said there were going to have about 4,000 fans. I know that's not near capacity, but just being able to play in front of a home crowd again is most definitely going to have us amped up."
Delaware hosts Sacred Heart in the first round of the FCS playoffs Saturday night at 7.