Nice little Saturday we’ve got lined up for ourselves here, yes? A full slate of college football games to choose from, including one very, very interesting FBS vs. FCS matchup that features a pretty curious point spread. Let’s get into that game in our West Virginia vs. James Madison betting preview.
More beautiful than the view atop Spruce Knob, I would say.
Mountaineers fans can bet on this matchup right from the parking lot or from their seats at Milan Puskar Stadium. Of course, both PA sports betting sites and NJ betting sites are fully locked, loaded, and ready to take the action, too.
Legal sports gambling is here. College football is back. Let’s go!
How to Bet on West Virginia-James Madison at DraftKings Sportsbook
Those of you new to betting – or betting with a premium and legal site like DraftKings – should know you can bet on much more than just the spread, moneyline, and total. DraftKings Sportsbook offers action for this game on half lines, alternate point spreads, parlays, and game props. Not to mention live betting, which allows you to continuously bet on the in-game action.
How to Watch
If you won’t be at the game, here’s the watch info:
- Date: Saturday, August 31
- Time: 2:00 p.m.
- Location: Milan Puskar Stadium (Morgantown, WV)
- Network: AT&T Sportsnet
- Sirius/XM: Ch. 111, Ch. 200
West Virginia-James Madison Odds
Here are the current West Virginia-James Madison odds at DraftKings Sportsbook:
|James Madison||+6 (-110)||+190||O 52.5 (-110)|
|West Virginia||-6 (-110)||-240||U 52.5 (-110)|
ESPN’s FPI index gives West Virginia a 73.6 % win probability. It’s always worth a look at how FPI win probability stacks up against implied moneyline odds. In this case, WVU at -240 on the moneyline gives them a 70.6% win probability, so there is actually some marginal value on a Mountaineers outright win, whereas you’re not going to get adequate underdog value on a James Madison outright win. Hmm…
West Virginia-James Madison Betting Preview
New coach, new quarterback, tons of questions marks. That’s basically the rundown of the Mountaineers as they get set for their season-opener against FCS power James Madison.
Dana Holgorsen is in Houston, Will Grier is a backup for the Carolina Panthers, and nobody is quite sure what this team’s identity is at the moment. New head coach Neal Brown hopes his team can quickly answer those questions to avoid being upset at home in his debut.
What we do know about the 38-year-old Brown is that after a 4-8 first season at Troy, he quickly built that program into a winner. His style should ultimately play well in the Big 12, but our concern isn’t about long-term development, it’s about what’s going to happen in Week 1.
The bottom line is that West Virginia must replace a lot. I mean, a lot. From fellow Crossing Broad writer (and West Virginia alum) Kevin Kinkead’s West Virginia season betting preview:
There are other significant losses across the board. Leading receivers David Sills and Gary Jennings are gone. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year David Long is now a Tennessee Titan. Left tackle Yodny Cajuste is a New England Patriot (barf). Center Matt Jones transferred. The one positive here is that the running back position looks pretty damn solid with the return of Kennedy McCoy, Martell Pettaway and Leddie Brown.
Grier will be replaced by Oklahoma-transfer Austin Kendall, and while it’s true that he has a solid group of backs that should relieve some of the pressure, nobody is quite sure how all of these moving parts will mesh together early on.
That’s an issue, particularly against a James Madison squad that’s rife with talent and experience. The Dukes come to Morgantown as the No. 2 ranked FCS team in the country and return 10 of their 11 defensive starters from a season ago.
Offensively, they return most of their offensive line and have a bevy of transfers from prominent FBS programs leading the way.
Curt Cignetti will make his head coaching debut with the Dukes in this game after spending two seasons at Elon. In those two seasons, Cignetti took Elon from perennial pushovers to an FCS playoff team, and the expectation is that he will bring James Madison its third FCS championship.
Why Betting West Virginia Makes Sense
West Virginia Starts Fast
The Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last five Week 1 games.
Success with this spread
There’s little doubt that six points is a pretty short spread here, but home teams in August and September games that are favored by exactly six points are 27-18-1 ATS overall, and they are 6-3 ATS when favored by 3.5-6 points at home. So from a general perspective, this line isn’t that scary. More on this in a bit.
If recent history matters, West Virginia has outscored James Madison by a combined 65 points over their last two meetings (87-22). Of course, those meetings did occur in 2004 and 2012, so it’s been awhile.
Why Betting James Madison Makes Sense
Look at the line
I mean, have you seen this line? Six points? Six? Let’s put it this way, there hasn’t been a situation dating back to at least 2005 where a Big 12 team was favored by six points or less against an FCS team. Interestingly, we could see two such games this weekend: James Madison-West Virginia and Kansas-Indiana State. To me, this six-point spread is pretty telling, and I’d be mighty concerned if I were a Mountaineers fan.
While I couldn’t find a situation where a Big 12 team was favored by six points or less against an FCS opponent, I found some other short spreads that strongly support a play on JMU. As a seven-point favorite, Big 12 teams playing against the FCS are 0-2 ATS. As a favorite of eight points or less, they are 1-2 ATS. As a favorite of nine points or less, they are 1-3 ATS. And favorites of 10 points or less, they are 2-5 ATS.
Not only do the Dukes return a ton of talent from a season ago (while West Virginia is in transition), they also stepped up and played North Carolina State in Week 1 a year ago. They covered the 15-point spread in a 24-13 loss, and thus have shown the ability to hang in there early in the season against a prominent program. That experience can only help this time around.
Early money was coming in on WVU, but that is no longer the case. People are hammering the Dukes. Here are the betting splits as of 5:28 p.m. Friday:
West Virginia-James Madison Prediction
I think it’s an oversimplification when people say the line tells you all that you need to know, but in this case…I think the line is telling you all that you need to know.
I don’t love that the money is on James Madison, but above all else, I simply think they are the better overall team.
James Madison 26, West Virginia 23