Coming off a 4-8 season, morale was not very high in Morgantown going into 2014.
Clint Trickett was coming off a shaky season under center after sharing time with Paul Millard and Ford Childress, the defense was unproven and the Mountaineers started the season against Alabama (the Imperial Death Star of college football).
And, of course,....Dana Holgorsen was on the hot seat in the eyes of many WVU fans.
Not a good look on paper.
In Tuscaloosa as well as around the college football landscape, the question wasn’t ‘would Alabama win?’; is was ‘Blake Sims or Jake Coker under center?’
Going into the Georgia Dome, the Mountaineer Sports Network crew believed that West Virginia should be shooting for the “moral victory” against the Tide.
The Mountaineers must have been listening, because that’s exactly what happened.
A 29-yard pass from Trickett to Kevin White on the opening drive set up a Josh Lambert field goal to give West Virginia the early 3-0 lead.
The Tide evened up the score on the next drive and scored a touchdown behind a TJ Yeldon run two drives later.
White evened the score midway through the second quarter with a beautiful acrobatic catch. All tied up 10-10.
After trading punts, Yeldon walked into the end zone again after Sims threw a 38-yard pass to DeAndrew White.
On the ensuing kickoff, Mario Alford returned it 100 yards to the house to tie it again. The Tide kicked a field goal as the first half expired as both teams went into the locker room with a 20-17 Alabama score.
Fans all over the country were shocked that the second-ranked team in the country was losing to this West Virginia team that was pretty bad the year before.
Unfortunately, the Mountaineers couldn’t quite pull of the upset. Derrick Henry scored on the second half’s third drive to put Alabama up ten. WVU couldn’t recover.
But for many, that didn’t matter. The Mountaineers put legitimate fear in the Tide, their fans and SEC community. The morale was back after a season and a half of darkness.
“I thought this game was going to be, exactly like it was.”
-Nick Saban, Aug. 30, 2014
Alabama would lose five weeks later at Ole Miss (lol Hugh Freeze), but finished the regular season on a seven game win streak (including a win against No. 1 Mississippi State). The Tide would crush No. 16 Missouri to win the SEC Championship in the Georgia Dome before losing to eventual national champions Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl Playoff Semifinal.