The new look Mountaineers will try to open the season with a win over James Madison Saturday afternoon, but JMU is not going to be a pushover.
History favors the Mountaineers, as WVU owns a 2-0 series record against JMU. The teams last met in 2012, with West Virginia winning easily, 45-10.
The big number in this game: zero. That is how many combined games both head coaches have led their current schools.
Neal Brown came to WVU from Troy, where he won three straight bowl games. In fact, Brown is one of six FBS coaches to win 10 or more games in three straight seasons.
James Madison is led by Curt Cignetti. His name should sound familiar: Cignetti played at WVU from 1979-82. His dad, Frank, was the head coach of the Mountaineers in the late 70s.
As for the teams, James Madison opens the season ranked No. 2 in both FCS polls. The Dukes have won two of their last four games against FBS opponents, beating SMU in 2015 and East Carolina in 2017. They lost to N.C. State by 11 points in their 2018 opener.
If history is a guide, an upset won’t happen today. West Virginia is a perfect 19-0 against FCS opponents. And the Mountaineers are also dominant in home openers. They are 98-20-6, winning 15 home openers in a row.
You will see some new faces on the field today: WVU returns just eight players who started at least one game in their career. Offensive lineman Colton McKivitz leads that group with 35 career starts.
On defense, nine players have started at least one game.
What does all of this mean? A simple math equation: new coaches on both sides, plus new coordinators and new schemes with new players equals… throw the numbers out the window and see what happens.