The Black Diamond Bowl has returned. West Virginia and Virginia Tech renew their rivalry this Sunday in Landover Maryland at 7:30 pm on ABC.
West Virginia leads the all-time series 28-22-1 with the last four meetings between these two programs split 2-2. The Hokies have won the last two contests.
It's been twelve years since these two rivals lined up across from one another and while the faces may have changed, the colors and the hate have stayed the same
When you look at the match-up, what sticks out at you is Dana's offense versus Bud Fosters defense. Virginia Tech's defense returns 7 starters from a top 20 defense from a year ago, while West Virginia returns four starters on the offensive side of the ball.
Virginia Tech red shirt freshman Josh Jackson will be thrown to the wolves, in this case the DAWGS, in the first game of his collegiate career. It will be tough for Jackson to find success in his first look at a collegiate defense, especially going up against the 3-3-5 defensive scheme that Tony Gibson runs.
The Hokies return running back Travon McMillian, who lead the Virginia Tech in rushing in 2016 with 671 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns in 14 games. Travon was the only player to rush for a hundred yards in a single game and he did it twice last season (Tennessee and Miami).
Offensively, there is no comparisons between the two schools. West Virginia has the advantage and its not even close.
Three different running backs ran for over 100 yards in a game last year (Crawford, Mckoy, Pettaway).
On the defensive side of the ball, a lot the talking heads in college football have the Bud Foster's Hokies as a big advantage. Statistically, yes they have the advantage, but I would say its closer than it appears. If you look at the offenses Foster faced last year, it doesn’t even compare to the offenses the DAWGS went up against week in week out in the Big 12.
Tony Gibson's defense gave up an average of 51.6 qbr rating against all 12 FBS schools the DAWGS faced in 2016. Jackson is a dual threat quarterback, the challenge for the Mountaineer defense will to keep him bottled up in the pocket.
Both defenses created 25 turnovers last year. The Hokie defense, in the red zone, allowed their opponents to get into the endzone 61% of the time, while the Mountaineers were at 50%. Another notable is points given up per game. West Virginia gave up 24.0 points per game while the Hokie defense allowed 22.8.
The noticable difference between these two defenses is yards per game, but that can be a bit deceiving considering the offensive juggernauts the Mountaineers (425.9 faced) in the Big 12 compared to Virginia Tech's (340.7) ACC schedule. When you look up yards per play its close Mountaineers (5.6) and Hokies (5.0).
Bud foster does have 31 years of experience as a coordinator for Virginia Tech but hasn’t had much success against a balanced spread offensive attack. He has had all summer to try and game plan against this Mountaineer offense but I don’t think its gonna matter.
I can almost guarantee that Jake Spavital, Dana Holgorsen and Will Grier have been drooling looking at the holes in that Hokie defense.
With Will Grier's decision making and that potent Mountaineer running attack led by Justin Crawford, I have West Virginia pulling away in the second half 37-20.