MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 04: Geno Smith #12 of the West Virginia Mountaineers throws a pass against the Clemson Tigers during the Discover Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on January 4, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
West Virginia will be a big favorite against Marshall in 2012's Friends of Coal Bowl on Saturday.
The No. 11 West Virginia Mountaineeers kick off their 2012 season with a matchup against in-state rival Marshall. The game will take place in Morgantown Saturday at noon.
The Mountaineers and the Thundering Herd have played one another for the past seven seasons, but there are no matchups planned after this one. If Marshall can't beat West Virginia this time, it's unclear when they ever will -- West Virginia is 11-0 all-time against the Thundering Herd.
The Mountaineers will, as usual, enter this year's Friends of Coal Bowl as favorites. This year, the Mountaineers' first in the Big 12, has been met by plenty of hype, as West Virginia's offense, led by Geno Smith and receiver Tavon Austin, figures to be explosive.
Marshall finished 7-6 in 2011, losing to West Virginia 34-13 to start the season but beating Louisville near midseason and coming on strong toward the end of the year, knocking off Memphis, East Carolina and FIU in its last three games. Young quarterback Rakeem Cato came on strong at the end of the year and should be one to watch in 2012.
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