MORGANTOWN - The evidence is all around. Teams from the Football Championship Subdivision can play with teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision, and every once in awhile they can win.
Whether they are high-profile games like Appalachian State stunning Michigan in the Big House in 2007 or the more mundane like Pitt falling to Youngstown State earlier this month, the frequency with which it happens seems to be increasing.
Already this season there have been eight FCS wins over FBS teams. Granted, some fall into the not-entirely-unexpected category - defending FCS champion North Dakota State 22, Colorado State 7 - and receive little notice. There have been but two FCS wins over teams from BCS conferences - Youngstown's over Pitt and Sacramento State beating Colorado - and none over Top 25 teams.
Quite frankly, there have been very few that carried the weight of Appy-Michigan.
But as more FBS teams routinely schedule those from the lower division, the possibilities would seem - at least mathematically - to increase. Dana Holgorsen just wants to make sure his No. 9 West Virginia squad isn't added to the wrong side of those statistics.
"Everyone remembers when Appalachian State beat Michigan. It's happening almost every week now,'' Holgorsen said Tuesday. "So we're going to be motivated this weekend. We don't want them talking about us in that category on Saturday.''
The chances of that would seem remote. After all, of all the FCS wins over FBS teams in recent years, few have come at the expense of ranked FBS teams. Yes, Michigan was ranked No. 5 when it lost to Appalachian State, but that's one of the rare exceptions.
Of course, then again, the other exception has to be noted, too, because that was James Madison beating No. 13 Virginia Tech two years ago - the same JMU that meets West Virginia Saturday at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.
"I'm sure we'll have something in the highlight tape [noting JMU's win in Blacksburg],'' Holgorsen said. "We did last year when we played Norfolk State. You're going to make reference to that because it's happening more and more.''
From one aspect, that JMU win two years ago might actually be a blessing to West Virginia. After all, Norfolk State has never beaten an FBS team, much less a ranked one, so it was probably difficult to grab the attention of WVU's players going into that game a year ago. Whether that had anything to do with it or not, Norfolk State actually led 12-10 at halftime before being blown out in the second half of a 55-12 loss.
Preparing for James Madison might actually be easier because the Dukes have a proven record of success against FBS teams, and JMU is certainly not taking the game as just a $350,000 paycheck, not with the build-up it was afforded during the summer in Virginia.
"They've been pumping it up because they're playing up a level, obviously,'' Holgorsen said. "They've played teams in the FBS for years and they've done well. They beat Virginia Tech two years ago, they came within three points of beating Maryland three years ago. So they're used to being in these games and they're going to come into it expecting to win, and our guys need to be able to counter.''