The Battle For John Denver is Extra Important in 2022
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.
I know Texas Tech already plays for the Saddle against TCU and has the dumb Insurance company trophy with Baylor. But with the Chancellor's Spurs running out of time and Oklahoma State not leaning into the Dust Bowl, maybe it's West Virginia that can answer the call for Texas Tech to have a cool rivalry trophy.
Here's what I proposed back in 2020 and still want to see happen, "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."
Since that writing, Texas Tech has won two more matchups and with a win in 2022 can even up the all-time series 6-6.
So, why a Gold Record and Why John Denver?
If you didn't know, John Denver attended Texas Tech and is famous for the only song that's legally played in West Virginia. They play Take Me Home, Country Roads during home football games in West Virginia and have done so since 1972. 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.
That's just one of the connections the two schools have though.
Dana Holgorsen worked for both Texas Tech and West Virginia.
Seth Doege, His little brother, and West Virginia head coach Neal Brown all also have a connection to Texas Tech and West Virginia. Keith Patterson even coached at both universities as a defensive coordinator.
Of course, there's also the Graham Harrell connection who is the OC at WVU and famously played quarterback for the Red Raiders in the mid to late 2000s.
This is all a very small sliver of the thread above that features more head coaches, AD's and university presidents threaded through both Texas Tech and West Virginia.
All the history is great, the common ground, the similar records, and successes. It all adds up to a fascinating Big 12 game that could be made cooler with a little bit of hardware. Ultimately it's a useless trophy, but the Big 12 Titles and New Years' Six Bowls come and go, but these rivalry trophies spark real fandoms to come to life.
It's the beauty of college football.
As far as this year's game goes, Texas Tech is going to stay undefeated at home and cover the -6.5 point spread comfortably. Give me 42-28 and feed me Baylor coming into Lubbock at night for an opportunity to get back-to-back games in the Big 12 and back to an even record in conference play.
Maybe I'm overconfident, but Neal Brown has never beaten Texas Tech as the head coach of West Virginia, and West Virginia has never won with Neal Brown on the sideline in Lubbock.
It's science, also I think Behren Morton can dominate this West Virginia secondary.