BIG Picks: WVU - JMU

James Madison is one of the best teams in the FCS. Will that be enough for any of our panelists to pick a monumental upset against West Virginia?


Tony, Jane and Bill took a narrow lead in week one after their predictions all missed the actual game score by 31 total points. Jane's vanity pick of 72 points for the Mountaineers turned out to be the closest pick by far to West Virginia's actual tally of 69, so she gets the Pickin' and Grinnin' Special Award for Cheekiness this week.


West Virginia's point explosion against Marshall led to a big differential in our panelists's picks. While misses of fewer than 10 combined points are common in this space, the best anyone could do was 31. Since we're grading on a curve here, though, it's hard to ding anyone for the wide gaps in the score predictions.

Tony Dobies Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 31
Similar to the first game of the season, West Virginia's offense will be on point. The Mountaineers shouldn't have trouble scoring at will with their playmakers. On defense, WVU needs to prove that it can get to the quarterback and hold receivers at bay. That might not happen in Game Two, but, then again, it probably won't matter.
Pick: West Virginia 51-30
Jane Donovan Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 31
Geno Smith was as close to perfection against Marshall as any quarterback I've ever seen play a game for WVU. His success was at least in part due to J.D. Woods's fine effort, especially since Doc Holliday's strategy seemed to be to attach several martian defenders to Tavon Austin at all times. However, as the novelist wrote, you can't keep a good man down, and since Tavon grew up less than an hour's drive from Fed Ex Field, we might expect that his mama and posse will be there to see their man put on a show. On defense, I look for a solid game from Josh Francis, who seems to be growing in understanding and confidence. If you ever get a chance to talk with Josh, ask him about the buck position -- he is very articulate and thoughtful about his role in the 3-4/4-3 defense.

JMU is not a patsy, but no one on the WVU side is looking past them. The Mountaineers will bring their "A" game and even though the Dukes will bring theirs as well, the outcome will never be in doubt. And, hey, Dan Snyder, thanks for the cash.

Pick: West Virginia 69-27
Bill Gleason Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 31
This is a more difficult game than one might imagine. JMU is a very good FCS team that will contend for the national title -- the one that is actually decided on the field. It has a history of playing the big boys tough and actually winning a game or two. Mickey Matthews is a remendous football coach and is well versed in Dana's offense, having worked with Hal Mumme himself back in the days before color TV. The Dukes are no pushover.

That said, WVU should roll in this game handily. If the Mountaineers come out and play with fire and focus, this game will be over early. The Mountaineers have already shown the ability to score on every drive. A hurry up JMU offense certainly won't slow down opportunities, even if WVU continues to struggle to get it off the field.

I go with WVU's offense scoring at will, the defense getting some timely turnovers and more early stops than people will remember once garbage time kicks in with about 13 minutes to go in the game.

Pick: West Virginia 57-23
Chris Richardson Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 34
"Mr. Holgorsen goes to Washington." Has a nice ring to it, no? Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers will descend on our nation's capital fresh off the open week and ready to roll over the James Madison Dukes. Under Mickey Matthews, JMU has built a great program at the FCS level, culminating with a national championship in 2004 and an upset over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg a few years back. This is a good test for the Mountaineers from the standpoint of maintaining focus and working to get better, no matter who the opponent is. While the outcome should never be in question, I think we'll learn a lot about this team from this game. Will they show up and expect to win? Or will they show up ready to play Mountaineer football. I say its the latter, which is bad news for the Dukes.
Pick: West Virginia 63-17
Patrick Southern Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 35
Dana Holgorsen and Mickey Matthews have been so busy complimenting each other's teams this week, one wonders if they have had time to coach their own. One could hardly blame the coaches for doing so -- Holgorsen surely hopes to get the attention of his players by playing up the opponent's strengths, and by building up the Mountaineers into the next coming of the '72 Dolphins, Matthews can take a bit of pressure off his team headed into a game his players are surely pumped up for.

All the psychological tactics notwithstanding, this game should be relatively straightforward on the field. If West Virginia avoids turnovers and executes even half as well offensively as it did against Marshall, this should be a runaway win for WVU. But James Madison has slain an FBS giant before, and if this one is still close at halftime, the Dukes could start to believe they can make history repeat itself.

Pick: West Virginia 55-17
Brian Jolliff Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 38
So we're back on track this weekend after an early off-week. How does that play into the game this Saturday with JMU? Many proclaimed they did not like the early break, but I think it is a good time for the team to get rested up, healed up and get ready focus on the task at hand.

I was much more nervous on opening weekend than I am for this game... but that is not to say that I'm taking this game lightly. Nor do I think the team and coaches are taking this game lightly. I think WVU comes out and take care of business, and the offense picks up where it left off against Marshall by playing with purpose and efficiency. Hopefully some of the mistakes and questions will be fixed on the defensive side of the ball.

Pick: West Virginia 56-17
Greg Hunter Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 41
Every season, a few FCS teams will jump up and bite an FBS squad, and occasionally it will be an upset of memorable proportion. WVU has never been such a victim, and even though JMU is solid for its level, it's hard to imagine a shocker at FedEx Field this year. West Virginia can't toy around, but it shouldn't have too much trouble taking care of business.
Pick: West Virginia 58-17
Cam Huffman Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 43
Dana Holgorsen caused a little bit of a stir when he said that James Madison will present more of a challenge than WVU's first opponent, Marshall. But he's right - at least on the scoreboard. While I expect WVU to come out sharp - I was looking for a little rust from the Mountaineers in the opener and instead looked down upon a well-oiled machine - I don't think the Dukes will allow the game to get quite so out of hand, at least in the early going. WVU will never feel threatened, but JMU won't be embarrassed, even though the final score won't look pretty.
Pick: West Virginia 62-27
Matt Keller Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 45
There's been quite the sales job ongoing by both head coaches this week. JMU's Mickey Matthews has built West Virginia into the '72 Dolphins, while Dana Holgorsen is selling the Dukes' as more of a test than Marshall. I don't believe either of them. What I do believe is that this team, by every predictor, has been grossly underestimated in the last two outings. I really don't know whether to pick WVU's score somewhere in the 40s, or somewhere in the 60s. It's difficult to imagine another 65-plus point game, but that was assumed a given after the Orange Bowl. The Mountaineers roll James Madison, and roll double nickels.
Pick: West Virginia 55-20
Andy Easton Last Week: W Season: 1-0 Pt Diff: 48
Mickey Matthews brings a solid team to Fed Ex field to play the Mountaineers on Saturday -- a team used to winning big games and a team with experience beating ranked teams. But, they will be facing the strongest Mountaineer team since 2007. The Dukes might be playing without their leading ground gainer which is bad news for a team averaging over seven yards per tote. The Mountaineers have too much talent for JMU, although it may be close in the beginning.
Pick: West Virginia 40-17 Game Scorecard
Sat 9/8/12 4:30 PM

Landover, MD

FedEx Field
Record: 1-0
Polls: 8/9
Last Game
Marshall 69-34 W
TV: Root Sports
Radio: MSN
Record: 2-0
Polls: NA
Last Game
Alcorn St W 42-3
Rosters/ Bios
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Season Stats
2012 Schedule

Series: WVU 1-0
First Meeting: 2004
Last Meeting: 2004
Press Release
Season Stats
2012 Schedule

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