#15 Virginia Tech at WVU
My goal writing for Motion Sports Network is to be opinionated, honest, entertaining and do my best to put personal feelings and biases aside. That being said, I grew up a West Virginia Mountaineers fan. It’s in my blood the same as the coal dust my family dug out of the ground. So this Saturday when #15 Virginia Tech travels to Morgantown to face my Mountaineers I will cheer for my team to win, but I will also use my analyst side to see the game objectively.
WVU vs VT in the years of the Big East Conference was one heck of a rivalry. Schools only a couple hundred miles apart. Neighboring states. And after Frank Beamer took over as VT head coach both teams fielded very, very good teams. You grow hatred through a rivalry like that but you grow some respect too. VT didn’t have a stellar team until Beamer got his legs under him. Then as VT started to win, their fan base grew. All it took was Beamer. Then they got a couple shots at the National Championship and began to bring in better players and eventually membership into the ACC in 2004. The two teams met again in 2005, the last arranged meeting, and not again until 2017.
West Virginia may have the upper hand in the all time series with a record of 28-23-1 but many of those came pre-Beamer. Since he took over in 1987 Tech has had the upper hand going 12-6 against WVU.
This years WVU team is a bit of an enigma. Their week loss at Maryland should have turned out different. Their defense let them down to a tune that a shut out win over LIU doesn’t make up for it. They have seniors at both QB, Jarrett Doege and RB, Leddie Brown and a WR corps that knows they gotta score to win in the Big 12. Their time in the Big 12 has hurt them. They never had much in common with those teams but when the Big East was collapsing they had to go somewhere. And now with a Big 12 once again in flux with the impending departure of Oklahoma and Texas WVU and it’s fans are looking at the ACC and wanting in there with old rivals Pitt, Miami, and VT. However as it stands now, the ACC doesn’t seem to want WVU.
In my opinion all of this has been a drag on WVU. The travel, the recruiting, the opponents, the different style of game, all of it. All the while the college football landscape has made massive changes and teams that could hang around the top 25 year after year like WVU now are struggling to stay relevant. Issues at head coach after Don Nehlen’s retirement have only made the situation worse. Now on their 4th coach in 21 years a program that once had stable leadership can’t seem to find footing. Coaches are your lead recruiters and with changes at the top, and conferences, and the landscape as a whole you can see why WVU today is not the WVU that played for a couple National Championships in the 80s/90s.
Back to this weekend's game now. This matchup is a treat for college football fans. It’s no Florida/Georgia but it is always a hard fought battle. Two teams that respect but don’t like each other. A team in VT that is rising in the rankings this year and a WVU team with the talent to compete and wanting a win against a ranked foe that isn’t Kansas State or Texas Tech. VT made a statement that they were back in the national conversation with an opening weekend win against #10 North Carolina.
WVU has had a better offensive attack this year but VT’s defense has led them so far. Classic matchup of offense vs defense shaping up? A little bit. WVU has to fix their turnover issues because being disruptive is a VT hallmark. There has been a little success running the ball against VT so you could see Brown do some damage. The VT offense hasn’t been amazing this year but they have got them 2 wins. Defensively for WVU, mixed bag. Couldn’t stop Maryland when they needed, and they will need to control the time of possession and hope to wear down an impressive Hokies defense.
All of that being said where do I come down on this matchup. The WVU fan in me wants the Mountaineers to beat them up and down the field. The realist in me sees that WVU and VT are going a bit in the opposite direction now. Tech is a good team. This will be a challenge for WVU. Being that the game is in Morgantown I think that helps push this to an almost 50-50 game. I think it will be good, will be fun, will be back and forth, will be close, but in the end Virginia Tech is going to take the Black Diamond trophy with them back to Blacksburg.
Heck folks, that’s only one of the noon kickoffs for Saturday. #8 Cincinnati is at Indiana, Michigan St at #24 Miami. Then later is #1 Alabama at #11 Florida, some #22 Auburn at #10 Penn State, I’ll bet you Tulane at #17 Ole Miss is entertaining, and stay up real late for 19 Arizona State at #23 BYU. Man I love me some college football