Texas Tech and West Virginia’s Battle for the Gold Album
Across the country, college football teams play rivalry games. Conference and non-conference games alike feature tokens that the winning team can take home and feature until the teams play again the following season.
There are dozens of trophies across college football, including the Wagon Wheel that Akron and Kent State play to win. Washington and Washington State play for the Apple Cup. There are four different Victory Bell games. Cincinnati and Louisville play for an entire Keg of Nails. There are also jewel encrusted Shillelaghs, golden cowboys hats, Paul Bunyan's axe, Iron Skillets, Golden Boots, a Golden Screwdriver, and a Gold Cowbell.
Just to name a few.
Yes, Texas Tech already plays for three separate trophies. TCU and Texas Tech battle it out for a saddle, while the Red Raiders and Longhorns have the Chancellor's Spurs, though I've never seen the teams carry these around after a game. The third is the Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Shootout with Baylor, but I protest this inclusion on the grounds that it's sponsored bull honk and it ruins the amateurism that the NCAA wholeheartedly and obviously strives for.
It's hard to call the Texas-Texas Tech matchup a rivalry given the disparity in wins and losses between the two schools. Both Baylor and TCU feature around 60 games played against Texas Tech, and both rivalries are nearly even.
I'd like to propose a 4th "rivalry" trophy into the Red Raider world.
In what's already been called "The Battle for John Denver" by most fans, Texas Tech vs West Virginia has been a chippy series in the past few seasons. West Virginia does lead the all-time series 6-3, but the Red Raiders and the Mountaineers have played some great games in the past eight seasons after not playing since 1938. Each team has one big win, while the rest have been relatively close, including a game in Morgantown where Texas Tech had a big lead in the second half and ended up losing by 11.
There's a case to be made that Oklahoma State vs Texas Tech would deserve the trophy instead of the battle for John Denver, but Mike Gundy doesn't deserve to have nice things.
So, why John Denver? His number one song, "Take Me Home, Country Roads" has been played during home football games in West Virginia since 1972. They play it after basketball games. In 1980, John Denver performed live in the pregame while the field was being dedicated to Don Nehlen. It's one of the official state songs of West Virginia.
The only problem with that is that John Denver went to Texas Tech and had never even been to West Virginia when he wrote the song. He just listed some stuff and made it rhyme. I don't think Mac Davis would have a lane here if he had written a song called Lubbock, but had never been here before writing it. Just listing random stuff out of the visitor's guide in a pleasant order.
To settle what school gets to claim the song/artist, the Red Raiders and Mountaineers should battle it out for the Gold Album. The trophy would look great and honor the late John Denver. To spice it up, if Texas Tech wins, they own the song until the teams play again. If West Virginia wins, it's theirs to play at their leisure. Talk about high stakes.
The 2020 edition of the "Grab for the Gold Album" features a 3-1 WVU coming to Lubbock to play a 1-3 TTU team. The good news is that West Virginia's two conference games came against Kansas and Baylor - teams near the bottom of the Big 12 conference. Texas Tech has lost to much better competition than West Virginia has beaten. Does that make this sound any better? I'm trying.
I do think the quarterback change from Alan Bowman to Henry Colombi will create a spark and finally allow the Yost offense to go beyond page two, but I don't know that Colombi can provide a tangible difference against the West Virginia defense that ranks number one nationally in total defense (240.2 yards allowed per game), and number two in the Big 12 in scoring defense (18.8 points allowed per game).
If the West Virginia defensive stats are only propped up because of their opponents so far, then Texas Tech will win this game. I bring this point up because Baylor and Kansas both rank 70th and 75th out of 77 FBS teams to have played so far. Oklahoma State ranks 38th, but have only played three games.
Texas Tech ranks 21st after playing Kansas State and Iowa State, pretty good defenses, and it still feels like there's a lot left in the tank with flashes of greatness from these receivers and running backs.
The West Virginia offense is led by Leddie Brown, who has 392 yards and three touchdowns vs conference opponents. Quarterback Jarrett Doege returns to Lubbock to play football for the first time since leading the Cooper Pirates to the playoffs.
The total is set in this game for 54.5, and I think that is dead on. The Big 12 seems to be trending to the 31-24 kind of score as opposed to the 49-45 games we all got used too in the late 00s. This is a winnable game for Texas Tech, but that doesn't always mean they can get the victory.