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WVU has Division I-AA power James Madison pumped

| Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, 11:22 p.m.

James Madison coach Mickey Matthews wondered why all the fuss.

Matthews, who operates one of the most successful football programs in the FCS, noticed a billboard promoting Saturday's 4:30 p.m. game against No. 9 West Virginia at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. He was concerned what his players would think.

“They had a billboard around here saying how many days it was to the WVU game,” Matthews said. “I don't know what that meant, you know? I don't know if our players are (concerned). I'm worried about the JMU Nation. You'd think this was Super Bowl V that we're playing.”

James Madison (2-0) has a favorable recent history against FBS teams like the Mountaineers. The Dukes upset No. 13 Virginia Tech, 21-16, in 2010, becoming the second FCS team to defeat the Hokies, who also became only the second ranked FBS team to lose to a lower division team.

Matthews called it his biggest win as a coach. A win against West Virginia would rank right up there.

“We still had to talk to our players about it back in August, that we had two games to play prior to the WVU game,” Matthews said. “On the other side of the coin, it's a good opportunity for our fans to go up there. We look forward to it. Sure, we're concerned, because we do have a lot of big games after this.”

Matthews is a master of the understatement. Told that Saturday's game will be shown live on Root Sports, he quipped, “I don't know if it's good or bad, but it's news.”

James Madison defeated its first two opponents, Saint Francis (Pa.) and Alcorn State, by a combined 97-10 margin. The Dukes are ranked No. 5 in the latest FCS coaches poll and No. 4 in The Sports Network Poll. They rank eighth among FCS teams in total offense and total defense.

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at

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