Believe it or not, my family was split WVU-James Madison University. I kid you not, my sister, Lisa, and I went to WVU and two of my other sisters went to JMU. Granted, they both got better grades in high school than we did, but they were also not easily bored to death – which is what Harrisonburg, Virginia offered along with their high-priced education. "Dukes" basketball was all they had to be proud of – and only the Lefty Driesell era was memorable.
I live in Los Angeles, where WVU fans are a rarity. Yet, the couple my entire family eats Thanksgiving dinner with each year both graduated from James Madison University. No kidding, my friend is a screenwriter who has made millions of dollars over the course of his career and I’m desperately trying to get him to give my 10-1 odds with the spread at 31 points. I’m hoping to take advantage of his loyalty to JMU, as I know my blind loyalty to WVU has cost me dearly over the years. $100 could clear me a cool grand if things go right in the next 24 hours.
It’s quite possible that I may be in the running for Mountaineer fan with most connections to JMU. If we played the "Kevin Bacon Game" with degrees of connection to JMU, I think I’d win.
The only other time the teams have played was in 2004 when WVU beat James Madison 45-10 (we were 8-4 that season & lost our last three games). JMU went on to win a subdivision national championship that year. But I’m not worried – even though FCS schools have beaten FBS schools before. Now, if we were playing this game at Mountaineer Field (which would be at 2/3 capacity for JMU) I might be worried about our guys showing up with intensity.
We’re playing this in FedEx Field, which will give the game something of a "Bowl" feel and I expect the Mountaineers to get going early and keep the foot on the pedal through the third quarter. "There might only be 40,000 folks in there, but as a former player I can tell you that the college student-athlete really enjoys playing in NFL stadiums," Athletic Director Oliver Luck said. In other words, give the 31 points and enjoy the show.
All the platitudes about the Dukes’ defense aside, they are not Clemson. I don’t think they are Marshall. We’ll see. But my confidence is driven almost completely by the venue. It sucks that the game isn’t on ESPN3 or televised outside of the ROOT Network. That being the case, it is one more good reason that we’re not playing this in Morgantown.
Atmosphere aside, I’m looking at WVU’s defense this game. I wasn’t as concerned about the points given up against Marshall as the 560 total yards of offense surrendered. I expect Joe DeForest has had a couple of good weeks of practice and will be watching to see if they can keep the yardage total under 300 (200 would be better). This is a tune up for next week vs. Maryland, which has better athletes and a better chance of being an unexpected spoiler.
My prediction: WVU 56 – JMU 16.
"I’m tired of making predictions. Cedric, tell me, in what round do you think I’m going to knock you out." – Eddie Murphy as Kelly Robinson, 57-0