I'm not saying that West Virginia is the best football program in the country, or that Texas Tech should be relegated to the dregs of the Sun Beast conference. Far from it. But when the Mountaineers have won every single meeting with the Red Raiders dating back to the series' first game on New Years Day 1938, it's evident which one is the dominant program. Much like WVU's complete ownership of Texas, the spotless record against the Longhorns' mechanically-inclined little brother did not come without its share of close calls. In fact, the first-ever meeting between the schools was a 7-6 nailbiter.
West Virginia native Marshall Glenn, coaching his first season in Morgantown, had led the Mountaineers to a hot start, blasting West Virginia Wesleyan 14-0 in Buckhannon in front of a raucous crowd of 7,000 screaming fans. A brief home setback to the #3 ranked Pitt Panthers in Morgantown was all that stood between Glenn's squad and an undefeated season, as the Mounties rolled up four straight wins against powerhouse teams from Washington & Lee, Xavier, Waynesburg and Western Maryland before battling the Georgetown Hoyas to a 6-6 tie. Blowout wins over Toledo and George Washington capped the magical season as fans awaited their first bowl invitation since a 21-13 stomping of the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the 1922 East-West Christmas Classic. They weren't to be disappointed.
The 7-1-1 Mountaineers then faced a stern test against slightly favored 8-3 Border Conference champion Texas Tech in Tech's home state as they traveled to El Paso, Texas, for the fourth annual Sun Bowl. But the sun shone brightly on the Mountaineers that day in front of a Sun Bowl record crowd of 12,000. Much as they had done the whole season, the Mountaineers rode the legs of Harry Clarke, whose 26 rushes for 132 yards provided all the offense Glenn's team would need. After a scoreless first quarter, the Mountaineers took advantage of a huge Tech miscue, scooping up a Red Raider fumble at their own three yard line to set up Davey Isaac's 1-yard touchdown run. The run was not without its adventure, as on fourth down, Isaac tried to run wide but fumbled, then recovered his own fumble, dodged three tackles and scooted into the endzone. If SportsCenter (okay, and television) had been invented, I'm sure it would have made top plays. Kelly Moan knocked through the all-important PAT that would prove to be the difference in the game. The Red Raiders answered late in the half on a 4-yard touchdown run by Charlie Calhoun, but the WVU defense blocked the PAT then stiffened in the second half to hold on for the 7-6 win. Texas Tech hasn't beat WVU since.
Did the students back home in Morgantown burn couches to celebrate that victory? Had couches been invented in 1938? Did anyone even know the outcome of the game before they read it in the newspaper the next day? We really don't need to know the answer to these questions, as the repeal of prohibition just a few short years before provided all the libation Mountaineer fans needed to celebrate.
I doubt this year's game will follow the same script, as the advent of the forward pass and advances in schemes and technology have driven up scoring averages (though WVU did beat Western Maryland 64-0 that year---take that, Marylanders). But has Tech ever been able to overcome that crushing defeat at the hands of the underdogs from the north? Judging by their winless record against WVU since, I would say the answer is no. I'm guardedly optimistic that the 74-year-old streak will continue this year.
[Game info via.]