The West Virginia Mountaineers and James Madison Dukes will travel east this weekend to face off at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland in what is sure to be one of the more thrilling FBS vs. FCS matchups this season.
Dana Holgorsen's No. 9-ranked Mountaineers have BCS National Championship hopes in 2012, while the Dukes, ranked No. 6 in the FCS, are looking to win a championship of their own this year.
Here is everything you need to know to get set for Saturday evening's can't-miss clash.
Where: FedEx Field, Landover, MD
When: Saturday, September 15 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Watch: Root Sports
Listen: WVAQ 101.9 FM (Morgantown), WSVA 550 AM (Harrisonburg)
Live Streaming: WVUSports.com
Betting Line: TBA
West Virginia and James Madison will meet for the first time in eight years on Saturday. The two programs last squared off in 2004, with WVU winning 45-10 in Morgantown. Current JMU head coach Mickey Matthews was the coach at the time, and will certainly want to even up his 0-1 record against the Mountaineers this weekend.
Who May Not Play for West Virginia
*According to USA Today
RB Dustin Garrison (Knee), questionable for Saturday
Who May Not Play for James Madison
*According to USA Today
No significant injuries to report.
For the No. 9-ranked Mountaineers, Saturday's game against James Madison is a must-win in order to remain in the AP Top 25 and keep alive their hopes for a BCS National Championship Game berth next January.
A win on Saturday won't do much for West Virginia's movement in the rankings, but it will keep them undefeated and in contention as their schedule begins to get a little trickier.
What They're Saying
James Madison head coach Mickey Matthews has very few ideas on how to defend West Virginia this weekend (via DukesofJMU.com's Matthew Stoss):
I really don't know how you slow them down. They're just really good. When they played Marshall, it was like the varsity and the JV playing.
You have to love Matthews' brutally honest reaction to West Virginia's impressive output two weeks ago.
On the other side, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen had nothing but praise for this Saturday's opponent (via The Daily Athenaeum's Greg Madia):
James Madison, they’re sound. They’re a good ball club. Mickey Matthews has been there 14 years now and has built one of the top 1-AA programs in the country.
Clearly Holgorsen is focused on James Madison and not looking ahead to Maryland next week.
West Virginia Player to Watch
WVU quarterback Geno Smith is a Heisman Trophy candidate in 2012, and his numbers after the Mountaineers' first game this season suggest that he'll be in the race all the way until a winner is crowned in December.
Smith completed 32-of-36 passes for 323 yards and four scores in West Virginia's rout of Marshall two weeks ago. The senior also ran the ball eight times for 65 yards and a touchdown. Expect Smith to have another big statistical day on Saturday against James Madison.
James Madison Player to Watch
Senior quarterback Justin Thorpe has been dominant through the air and on the ground thus far in 2012, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for three more in two games. Thorpe is an experienced signal-caller, and played in eight games last season for the Dukes.
The Richmond native is completing more than 64 percent of his passes and averaging nearly nine yards per carry coming into Saturday's game. Look for Thorpe to be JMU's playmaker this weekend in Landover.
The key matchup to watch for in Saturday's game will be the high-powered offensive attack of West Virginia versus the stingy James Madison defense. The Dukes have allowed just 10 total points in two games this season, while the Mountaineers lead the nation in scoring offense (69 points per game) after one win over Marshall.
I expect WVU to find success against JMU's defense throughout on Saturday. Few teams boast the personnel required to slow Holgorsen's spread attack, and the Dukes have yet to face an elite FBS offense this season.
On the Hot Seat
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen will be under pressure to lead his team to a blowout win over James Madison on Saturday. Holgorsen went 10-3 last year and helped the Mountaineers win an Orange Bowl title. But that won't matter if WVU doesn't win this weekend.
James Madison has a history of playing the nation's top teams tough. The Dukes pushed Maryland to overtime in College Park in 2009, and upset Virginia Tech, which was ranked No. 13 in the country at the time, in Blacksburg in 2010.
Although this weekend's matchup will be played at a neutral site right outside of Washington, DC, the Mountaineers will have the louder fans and the better team. I expect a much closer game than most experts are predicting, but West Virginia will win in the end. Holgorsen's squad simply has too much offensive firepower for JMU to keep up.
West Virginia 45, James Madison 27
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