Countdown to Kickoff – Virginia Tech Preview – West Virginia University Athletics – WVU Athletics

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Virginia Tech puts the Black Diamond Trophy on the line when it meets West Virginia later today at Milan Puskar Stadium.
 
The Black Diamond Trophy, was originated in 1997 and established to represent the region’s deep history with the coal industry. Rish Equipment Company, which provided funding for athletic scholarships at both schools, was the presenting sponsor.
 
The Hokies are making their first appearance in Morgantown since 2005 when they defeated West Virginia 34-17. The last meeting was at FedExField in 2017 when Tech held on to defeat West Virginia 31-24.
 
Today’s game will be the 53rd in a sporadic series that began in 1912 and was played regularly in the late 1950s and early 1960s when the two schools were members of the Southern Conference and resumed again in 1973 when WVU was an Eastern independent. The two played annually until Virginia Tech departed the Big East for the ACC in 2005.
 
Virginia Tech has been in possession of the Black Diamond Trophy for more than 6,000 days, according to coach Neal Brown‘s calculations. The Hokies have won three straight since West Virginia’s last victory in Morgantown in 2003.
 
“It’s a trophy game – playing for the Black Diamond Trophy. I think anytime you play one of those games, it matters,” Brown said earlier this week.
 
In the 2017 game in Landover, Maryland, before 67,489, West Virginia, trailing by a touchdown, marched to the Hokie 15-yard late in the game, but two Will Grier passes into the end zone fell incomplete. The Mountaineers outgained the Hokies 592 to 469 that night.
 
Here is today’s Countdown to Kickoff:
 
10 – West Virginia is currently ranked TENTH nationally in red-zone defense with an opponents’ success rate of 42.9%.
 
9 – The Mountaineers are averaging NINE rushing first downs per game so far this year.
 
8 – Quarterback Jarret Doege is hunting for his EIGHTH career 250-yard-plus passing performance today. Doege has already topped 250-plus passing yards in games this season against Maryland and Long Island.
 
7 – Twelve times since 1973, the West Virginia-Virginia Tech games have been decided by SEVEN points or less.
 
6 – SIX different Mountaineers defenders have earned their first starts this season, including linebacker Lance Dixon who started last Saturday’s Long Island victory.
 
5 – FIVE West Virginia defensive players have recorded at least 10 or more tackles in two out of the last three games dating back to last season.
 
4 – FOUR different receivers grabbed at least three catches in last Saturday’s 66-0 win over Long Island. Nine different players have caught at least one pass so far this season.
 
3 – West Virginia’s offense has had a player score THREE touchdowns in a game nine times since 2017, the most recent being running back Leddie Brown in the season opener at Maryland.
 
2 –Leddie Brown ranks SECOND nationally in touchdowns with five after two weeks of play.
 
1 – Since 2015, West Virginia is tied for FIRST in the Big 12 by producing 127 turnovers, an average of 1.7 per game.

Despite its recent three-game winning streak, Virginia Tech still trails West Virginia 28-23-1 in all-time series play. WVU won seven straight games during one stretch from 1915 until 1958, and also won five straight from 1981 to 1985.
 
“I know our fanbase is excited about this game. From a fanbase standpoint, the rivalry sticks out more than the players just because it has not been played on an annual basis since the early 2000s,” Brown said. “For me, personally, it’s been very interesting learning about it, and I’ve enjoyed it. Coach (Jeff) Casteel has been a really good point of contact for me as far as just learning about the emotions that go into the game and how both fanbases feel.”
 
Saturday’s game will kick off at noon and will be televised nationally by FS1 (Cory Provus and Devin Gardner). Mountaineer Sports Network coverage starts at 8:30 a.m. with the Mountaineer Tailgate Show leading into regular game coverage at 11 a.m. with Tony CaridiDwight Wallace and Jed Drenning on stations throughout West Virginia and online via WVUsports.com and the popular mobile app WVU Gameday.
 
Fans are encouraged to wear gold on game day as part of “Gold Rush.” A capacity crowd is expected. Prior to the game, the 2020 class of honorees will be inducted into the WVU Sports Hall of Fame. The 2020 class includes Janáe (Cox) Asbury (gymnastics), Da’Sean Butler (men’s basketball), Janis Denise “JD” Drummonds (women’s basketball), Jedd Gyorko (baseball), Richard “Dick” Leftridge (football), John McGrath (men’s soccer), Tony Robertson (men’s basketball), John Rost (rifle), Clara (Grandt) Santucci (women’s cross country & track), Tom Shafer (baseball) and Ron Wolfley (football).
 
Induction ceremonies for that class were canceled last year because of COVID-19.
 
“It’s a sellout crowd on Saturday, and we’re excited about it,” Brown said. “I think it’s going to be a tremendous atmosphere.”
 

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