MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Mickey Matthews has seen Saturday's game coming for a long time. The James Madison coach had no choice even months before his team would play West Virginia.
"When we came to work in July, we had a billboard here saying how many days it was until the West Virginia game," said Matthews, who is JMU's winningest coach and 98-21 since arriving in 1999. "I don't know what that meant, but we had to talk to the players back in August that we had two games to play to get to the West Virginia game."
The Dukes, ranked No. 5 in the Football Championship Subdivision, navigated the two games with hardly any trouble. They beat St. Francis (Pa.) and Alcorn State by a combined 97-10 and are averaging 511.5 yards per game and 7.2 per play.
Now Matthews hopes the Mountaineers haven't seen the Dukes coming.
"The true statement is I'm sure they haven't even watched our film," Matthews, a former Marshall and Georgia assistant, said. "I'd be very surprised if they were aware of anything we do. They're very good. They beat Marshall. They could have scored 100 against Marshall if they wanted to. I'd just be very surprised if they knew much about us."
The trouble for Matthews - beyond playing up a level against the ninth-ranked team in the Football Bowl Subdivision and a considerable gap in depth and talent - is that the Mountaineers are aware of the Dukes.
"They have as good of players at that level as probably anybody that exists there," Coach Dana Holgorsen said. "It'll definitely be a challenge for us."
And how much of a battle can the Mountaineers (1-0) expect in the 4:30 p.m. game at FedEx Field, in Landover, Md?
"We're anticipating a bigger challenge this week than what we faced a week ago," said Holgorsen of the game televised on Root Sports.
The Mountaineers scored 10 touchdowns with eight players in a 69-34 victory against Marshall and managed more yards of offense than in all but one other game in school history. They were also off this past week and that worries Matthews, who has one significant win against a FBS team - in 2010 at No. 13 Virginia Tech.
That came with a special circumstance, though. The Hokies played, and lost, five days earlier against Boise State at FedEx Field. The Dukes ended up with the second win ever by a FCS team against a ranked FBS team, following Appalachian State's memorable win at Michigan three years earlier.