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Virginia Tech-West Virginia: A Rivalry Renewed

By Carlos Pineda
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Former Big East foes Virginia Tech and West Virginia will reignite their rivalry on Sunday night, when the two schools face each other for the first time since 2005.

Former Big East foes Virginia Tech and West Virginia will reignite their rivalry on Sunday night, when the two schools face each other for the first time since 2005.

The neutral-site match-up will mark the 52nd meeting in a series that dates all the way back to 1912. The two teams played annually from 1973-2005, and had their most memorable encounter in 1999.

Known as "The Miracle in Morgantown," the third-ranked Hokies were trailing 20-19 with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter. With a trip to the national championship game hanging in the balance, quarterback Michael Vick led them on an unforgettable seven-play scoring drive that concluded with a 44-yard field goal from kicker Shayne Graham. The Hokies remained undefeated and continued on their magical run to the Sugar Bowl, where they faced top-ranked Florida State.

The last meeting in 2005, saw Virginia Tech pick up a 34-17 win in Morgantown. The victory proved to be West Virginia's lone defeat of that season. The Mountaineers, under Rich Rodriguez, finished the season with an 11-1 record and defeated Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Hokies finished 11-2 and played Florida State in the ACC's inaugural championship game.

Sunday night’s game signal's the beginning of Justin Fuente's sophomore campaign in Blacksburg.

The 2016 ACC Coach of the Year got off to great start in his debut season last year. He guided Virginia Tech to a 10-4 record with an appearance in the ACC title game.

Under Fuente, the Hokies had the most wins since 2011, winning six of their final nine games. The 35-24 win over Arkansas in the Belk Bowl produced the largest comeback in school history. Virginia Tech found itself down 24-0 at halftime before going on a 35-point surge in the second half.

For the second straight year, Virginia Tech will open the season with a new starting quarterback. Josh Jackson will be the first redshirt freshman since Tyrod Taylor in 2007 to get the starting nod ahead of the season opener. Receiver Cam Williams returns for his senior year after producing 983 receiving yards.

The Hokies' Lunch Pail defense had a resurgence in 2016 as Bud Foster's group finished in the top 20 in total defense, seventh in tackles for loss, fifth in completion percentage, and third in third down defense. Cornerback Greg Stroman solidified himself as one of the top shut-down corners in the conference last year.

Virginia Tech faces a West Virginia team that finished last season with a 10-3 record. The Mountaineers produced their second 10-win season under coach Dana Holgorsen. The first came in his first year in 2011 when they won the Orange Bowl.

Virginia Tech, which won its sixth ACC Coastal Division title and played in the conference title game for the first time in six years, is eyeing a return to Charlotte in Fuente's second year, but it will be more challenging this time around as Miami is expected to make a serious run for the divisional crown. The Hurricanes, in Mark Richt's second year at the helm, were selected to win the Coastal Division at the ACC Kickoff in July. The Hokies were selected second, with Georgia Tech being picked third. The Hokies host Clemson at the end of the month, with back-to-back trips to Miami and Atlanta scheduled for the first two weekends of November. Last year, Virginia Tech beat Miami and lost to Georgia Tech.

The Hokies enter the season opener having won seven of the last 10 meetings in the series. 

Carlos Pineda - Carlos Pineda is a featured writer for Southern Pigskin. He covered the UCF Knights football team for Florida Today in 2010. Carlos' work has been published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal. He attended the University of Central Florida. Follow Carlos on Twitter @CarlosFPineda.