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WVU vs. JMU Betting Preview: How To Bet West Virginia at DraftKings Sportsbook

30th August, 21:22

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.

Adding to the intrigue of this matchup is that DraftKings Sportsbook is now live in West Virginia because sports betting is now legal in West Virginia.

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!

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.

Here are the current West Virginia-James Madison odds at DraftKings Sportsbook:

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...

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.

The Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last five Week 1 games.

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.

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 good.

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.

I like to go where the money isn't, and let me tell you, the money isn't on James Madison in this one.

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. The money is overwhelmingly on West Virginia and it's not moving off of six points.