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ESPN College GameDay Goes off the Beaten Path for Week 8 at James Madison

Justin Ferguson@@JFergusonBRCFB National AnalystOctober 18, 2015

James Madison QB Vad Lee
James Madison QB Vad LeeG Fiume/Getty Images

Compared to what was a loaded Week 7 of college football action, it's safe to say the Week 8 lineup is quite underwhelming at the FBS level.

But the weaker slate will provide a unique opportunity for two programs in the FCS as ESPN's College GameDay is set to put its massive spotlight on the in-state rivalry clash between Richmond and James Madison.

GameDay producer Lee Fitting, a James Madison alumnus, tweeted Sunday morning that the popular pregame show will head to Harrisonburg, Virginia, this week for a surprise visit to the Dukes' campus.

The show's official Twitter account gave the Richmond-James Madison matchup the full reveal treatment with a short hype video a few minutes later.

The showdown between the Spiders and the Dukes is quite a big one by FCS standards.

James Madison is 7-0 this season under second-year head coach Everett Withers, averaging 48.7 points per game and sporting the No. 5 ranking in the latest STATS FCS Top 25. The Dukes, led by former Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee, have a solid chance at an undefeated regular-season run and one of the top seeds in the FCS playoffs.

Richmond FB James Pavik and RB Jacobi Green
Richmond FB James Pavik and RB Jacobi GreenPatrick Smith/Getty Images
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Richmond represents James Madison's greatest threat in the Colonial Athletic Association right now with a 3-0 conference record. The No. 13 Spiders are 5-1 overall with their lone loss on the year coming to FBS foe Maryland in Week 1.

Of course, GameDay is headed to Harrisonburg this upcoming weekend mostly due to several disappointments in the FBS. 

As it currently stands, Week 8 only has two games between teams that entered Week 7 in the AP Top 25. One of them, a Thursday night matchup in the Pac-12, features Cal and a UCLA team that looks destined to drop out of the poll later on Sunday after its big loss to Stanford.

The other game, Texas A&M versus Ole Miss, was the early favorite for GameDay in Week 8. On Friday, Fitting said on the Paul Finebaum Show that the crew would head to the Grove in Oxford if Texas A&M knocked off Alabama on Saturday.

But the Aggies lost to the Tide by a score of 41-23, and Ole Miss didn't do the matchup any favors by falling to Memphis on the road.

Now, GameDay will go to the FCS for its next spotlight destination, which is something the show has done several times in the last few years.

According to Richie Bozek of the Breeze—James Madison's student newspaper—GameDay has gone to North Dakota State each of the last two seasons, and it went to Harvard for "The Game" against Yale in 2014. Florida A&M received a visit from the show several years ago. 

If GameDay's last few visits to lower-level programs are any indication, viewers can expect a pumped-up and completely unique atmosphere next weekend when ESPN goes live from "The 'Burg."

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.