MORGANTOWN - With several of its future games being played in the Midwest and points beyond, West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen said it's important to play some games along the Eastern seaboard.
Saturday's game with James Madison University at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., will do just that for the eighth-ranked Mountaineers. Despite being a significant bus ride from the Morgantown campus, the game is considered to be a West Virginia home game.
"We have a huge alumni base in that area," Holgorsen said. "So it's important for us to play there. I hope we have a tremendous amount of support for the Mountaineers."
West Virginia, 1-0, boasts five key players from the Maryland area offensive linemen John Bassler (New Windsor) and Jeff Braun (Westminster), receiver Tavon Austin (Baltimore), running back Ryan Clarke (Glen Burnie) and defensive back Terence Garvin (Baltimore).
"It's important for us to have a presence over there," Holgorsen said. "It's important recruiting-wise. It's important for the 20 or so kids (on the Mountaineer roster) from that area. (Athletic director) Oliver Luck and Dr. (James) Clements (the college president) have looked at it as important. We have switched conferences and will be playing a lot of games in the Southwest and Midwest, so this is important for us."
Kick-off for the game is slated for 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and it will be broadcast on Root Sports. FedEx Field is the home of the NFL's Washington Redskins.
"It's nice for our guys to play in pro stadiums," Holgorsen said. "I wouldn't want my home stadium to be a pro stadium. We did it twice last year, and it seemed like our guys got juiced up for the that. Next year, we will play in the Ravens stadium. Family and friends get excited for that, too. Recruits and players do, too."
The Mountaineers are 27-19 in games played in pro football stadiums, including a 4-0 run since 2000.
This will be the second time in James Madison history that the football team has played in a pro stadium, the last coming in 2000 when they took on South Florida in Raymond James Stadium.
James Madison, 2-0, enters the game ranked fourth in the latest FCS poll.
The two squads have played once before, a 2004 matchup in Morgantown that the Mountaineers roll to a 45-10 win in.