MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia football team has experienced just about every emotion possible in three previous trips to Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock when facing Texas Tech.
It’s gone from anger and disappointment to pure joy and ecstasy to arrogance and swagger.
In 2012, the Mountaineers first trip to visit the Red Raiders, they entered unbeaten at 5-0 and ranked No. 5 in the country and left a beaten down shell after a 49-14 loss.
WVU was coming off an big win the week before at Texas and was blitzed by Texas Tech’s high-powered offense early, led by quarterback Seth Doege. The Red Raiders led 35-7 at halftime and didn’t let up in the second half.
WVU quarterback Geno Smith entered with all the hype, but it was Doege who finished with 499 yards and six touchdowns passes.
“It was a poor performance defensively … and it’s just a team loss,” Dana Holgorsen said after the game. “They outplayed us. They outcoached us. On all three sides of the ball, they did better than we did.”
West Virginia’s next trip was in 2014 and it looked like it was headed down the same path, trailing Texas Tech 14-3 at the end of the first quarter. Every time it looked like the Mountaineers were mounting a comeback, the Red Raiders answered.
Finally, late in the fourth quarter, WVU’s defense got the stops it needed and quarterback Clint Trickett led two touchdown drives to tie the game at 34 with two minutes left.
After a dreadful possession by Texas Tech, WVU got the ball back and drove close enough for a 55-yard Josh Lambert field goal attempt, which he promptly split down the uprights, securing a 37-34 WVU win. It was the Mountaineers’ first win over Texas Tech.
Safety Dravon Askew-Henry, then a freshman, remembers the postgame aftermath fondly.
“Their fans are kind of feisty,” he said. “I remember that. We’re ready. I’m sure they’re ready too. We’ve beat them four years in a row. I didn’t hear too much crazy. It’s more what they did. I ran off the field and saw some chips on my shoulders — nachos. They’re just throwing food.”
In 2016, it was the Mountaineers turn to put a hurting on the Red Raiders. Despite having eventual first-round pick Patrick Mahomes at quarterback, Texas Tech only mustered 17 points and one touchdown pass in a 48-17 loss in what was arguably West Virginia’s best defensive performance of the season. They sacked Mahomes four times.
So West Virginia enters Saturday’s game with a 2-1 mark in Lubbock and there are similarities to the previous matchups. The Mountaineers have had a senior quarterback in all three previous meetings and it will be no different now with Will Grier at the helm.
WVU was also ranked in two meetings — 2012 and 2016 — each with much different results. The Mountaineers are currently ranked No. 12.
Holgorsen, who coached at Texas Tech for eight years, isn’t going to be blindsided with what the crowd will bring.
“We’re well-aware of what their environment is — I’ve seen it up close and personal for a long, long time. We’ll be ready to go.”