Jane leaps into first place with a miss of just 10 points in the LU game, while Jeff, Greg and Brian are all within eight points of her lead. This week the focus is on picking the correct winner first, and the mixed bag of predictions means that the won-loss logjam will break up.
|West Virginia (1-1) vs. Virginia Tech (2-0)||Sat Sept. 18 12:00 PM ET|
|Mountaineer Field||Morgantown, WV||TV: FS1|
|Poll: WVU–NR VT-15||Series: WVU 28-23-1||Last Game: VT 31-24|
|Twitter: @BlueGoldNews||Facebook: BlueGoldNews||Web: BlueGoldNews.com|
Last Game: W Season Record: 1-1 Point Differential: 30
In the immortal words of St. Dolly of Pigeon Forge: “Here you come again, and here I go” – I meaning Mountaineer Nation, which will go all out to “welcome” our old frenemies Virginia Tech back to Morgantown. It’s been a while. We kinda missed you. When I think of VT and reflect on our long and tortured relationship, it’s Brian King and Grant Wiley who come to mind. If you don’t get the reference, look it up. The WVU D will need all it can channel of Wiley’s fierce determination and King’s ability to be in the right place at the right time.
But who will need it most of all is the offensive line. A zillion yards passing looked really great against the Baby Sharks, but WVU needs a running game. Hopefully, Neal Brown has something up his sleeve that we haven’t seen yet. Otherwise, it could be a long afternoon.
West Virginia 21-20
Last Game: W Season Record: 1-1 Point Differential: 31
The old heart vs. head argument, where th heart always says “West Virginia.” My head this week is saying Virginia Tech.The biggest reason to pick against WVU this week? The stationary nature of Jarret Doege meeting up with the effective VT pass rush, combined with an ineffective running game by WVU up to this point. But might that lead to some series with Garret Greene? Or might this foreknowledge spur the coaches to be creative in their play calling to offset these factors? It’s going to be a spectacle in Morgantown regardless with the gold rush and the old rivalry being renewed. Don’t discount what a high energy atmosphere will do for the Mountaineer players. I look for the defense to win this game and the offense to do just enough not to spoil it.
West Virginia 23-20
Last Game: W Season Record: 1-1 Point Differential: 37
It’s a new year for the teams on each side of the Black Diamond trophy. Virginia Tech lost four of its final five games in 2020 to finish 5-6. WVU won three of its last five in ‘20 to finish 6-4. Things quickly changed at the outset of 2021, though, as Hokies gained momentum out of the gate with an impressive win over No. 10 North Carolina, while the Mountaineers stumbled in their first-game loss 17-14 at Maryland. VT now rides that wave of emotion to Morgantown in a rivalry that has only been renewed once in the last 16 years.
Virginia Tech 24-21
Last Game: W Season Record: 1-1 Point Differential: 38
West Virginia’s offense has a tough time moving the football on a stout Hokie defense but a late forced turnover swings things the Mountaineers’ way, returning the Black Diamond Trophy to its rightful home for the first time in 18 years.
West Virginia 17-14
Last Game: W Season Record: 1-1 Point Differential: 44
My favorite student section memory was the 2003 WVU-VT game. Wednesday night, national TV. Hokies nationally ranked. The Mountaineers were but 2-4, but it didn’t matter. West Virginia dominated from start to finish and turned its season around with a 28-7 win. While this year’s setup isn’t quite the same, there’s no question that a win would be a shot in the arm for the old gold and blue. This one could go either way. I’ll take the Hokies, but expect a great atmosphere and an inspired effort from the home team.
Virginia Tech 27-23
Last Game: W Season Record: 1-1 Point Differential: 45
With the playtime portion of the schedule now complete, West Virginia faces the business end of a resurgent Virginia Tech squad rising into the Top 15 with solid defense, a strong running game and a mobile QB with an accurate arm.
The only thing new about this match-up, to be honest, is a West Virginia program trying to run behind an offensive line that just isn’t getting it done. When your coach mentions poor footwork and poor communication on the line, you feel like those issues can be taught. When your coach laments losing the physical battle to possibly the worst team to ever step on the turf in Morgantown, well, the nails on the chalkboard sound comes to mind.
A West Virginia program built by Don Nehlen to be physical, who, win or lose, teams knew they’d been beaten on all day long, is getting pushed around by bottom-feeding FCS teams. This isn’t a talent issue. There is speed and skill spread all over the field for WVU. There is plenty of size up front and the strength program is second to none in the land. It’s time for this line to meet the challenge. Deliver the blow. Finish your blocks. Play through the whistle. Bury your opponent time after time until he’s tired of getting beaten on. Then do it some more.
This isn’t about coaching. This isn’t about scouting or scheming or scripting. This is about lining up and going medieval on every person in the wrong color of clothing. This is about standing up (and knocking down) for the Old Gold and Blue.
I haven’t seen that fight from this offensive line, and it is making an otherwise sharp-looking offense look pedestrian at times. While everyone, including me, has piled on Jarret Doege for some sketchy decisions and throws, a careful re-watch of the film shows zero time to make many of those choices. There’s no Geno Smith standing in the backfield for five and six seconds until he finds his fourth receiver streaking open on the other side of the field. There’s Doege running for his life before he even gets the laces turned around and then chucking one into coverage trying to make a play.
All that said, if this line does its job, WVU has the ability to win this game. The Mountaineer crowd will be big and loud and the home field advantage here will be something many on this team have never experienced for themselves. But I just don’t have any evidence to give me the faith that the line of scrimmage battle goes to WVU.
Virginia Tech 23-20
Last Game: W Season Record: 1-1 Point Differential: 53
I hope I’m wrong with this one, but I feel like week 2 was a little dose of fool’s gold. When Jarret Doege has time and isn’t pressured he can prove to be very efficient. When the heat comes and the initial hit comes, he’s much different. I think the Hokie defense proves to be too much for the Mountaineers. I’ll re-emphasize … I REALLY hope I’m wrong. Virginia Tech keeps the Black Diamond Trophy in a defensive battle.
Virginia Tech 20-16