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Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland
West Virginia looked in midseason form, lighting up the scoreboard in a 69-34 rout of in-state rival Marshall on Sept. 1. Following a bye week, the eighth-ranked Mountaineers will look to keep their offense percolating when they host FCS opponent James Madison in the Virginia 529 Classic on Saturday at Washington’s FedEx Field. Heisman Trophy candidate Geno Smith directs an offense that has generated 139 points in its last two games, including last season’s 70-33 Orange Bowl rout of Clemson. James Madison, ranked No. 5 nationally in the FCS, is no stranger to playing with the big boys, upsetting nationally ranked Virginia Tech in 2010 and taking Maryland into overtime one year earlier.
ABOUT JAMES MADISON (2-0): While the Dukes are taking a major step up in class, they have been dominant in their first two games against St. Francis (Pa.) and Alcorn State, winning by a combined 97-10. But the task facing James Madison will become even more daunting if top running back Dae’Quan Scott is unable to play due to a sprained ankle. Scott, the Colonial Athletic Conference player of the week, has scored five touchdowns and rushed for 180 yards on only 20 carries. That will put more of an onus on dual-threat quarterback Justin Thorpe, who has passed and run for three TDs apiece.
ABOUT WEST VIRGINIA (1-0): Smith was spectacular in a record-setting season opener, carving up Marshall with a precision passing display. Smith threw for four touchdowns and 323 yards on 32-of-36 passing and even ran for a 28-yard TD. Stedman Bailey had nine receptions for 104 yards and two scores and Tavon Austin added 10 catches as the Mountaineers rolled up 655 yards in total offense. West Virginia also churned out 331 yards on the ground, led by Shawne Alston’s 123 yards and two touchdowns. One concern for the Mountaineers and second-year coach Dana Holgorsen was the defense, which yielded 545 yards overall and 413 through the air against Marshall.
1. Smith set school records for career passing TDs (60) and career completions (651) in the season opener, eclipsing the marks held by Marc Bulger.
2. James Madison has amassed 1,018 yards of offense in its two wins.
3. The Mountaineers are 12-0 against Division I-FCS opponents and beat James Madison 45-10 in 2004.