After four weeks of fall camp for the WVU football team, it’s finally game week. The Mountaineers will begin prep for their season-opener set for 7:30 p.m. Sunday, at FedExField, in Landover, Md.

“We’ll talk more Virginia Tech next week,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said during last week’s news conference. “I’m looking forward to talking Virginia Tech.”

That probably goes for the entire football team and WVU fan base — the talk is almost over and the rivalry against the Hokies can finally be renewed on the field. The rivalry dates back to Nov. 16, 1912, a 41-0 win for “Virginia Polytechnic Institute,” in Blacksburg.

Throughout the 1950s and ’60s, most games were lopsided in favor of the Mountaineers.

VPI changed its name to Virginia Tech in 1970 after the school saw a considerable growth in student population. The early ’70s unofficially marked the beginning of the WVU-V.T. rivalry when the two schools started playing annually in 1973.

The games were getting more competitive, but WVU still seemed to have the upper hand over the Hokies. Oliver Luck orchestrated the biggest comeback in the series history, in 1979, when WVU came back from a
23-6 halftime deficit to win 32-23 — the last victory at Old Mountaineer Field.

Enter new WVU coach Don Nehlen, who lost his first game against V.T. in 1980, but won five of the next six. The Hokies looked in a different direction for a new coach in 1987, and hired Frank Beamer to replace Bill Dooley.

Beamer not only took V.T. to new heights, but helped bud the rivalry with WVU while both schools began to contend at the national level. With Beamer at the helm, the Hokies won three in a row from 1989-’91 after the Mountaineers went to the national title game in 1988, adding fuel to the fire between the two fan bases. In ’91, WVU fumbled at V.T.’s 1-yard-line with 16 seconds left and lost by six points.

In 1994, though, the Hokies began a series of dominance, their lone hiccup coming in 1997. V.T. won seven of eight from 1994-2001 and became a national powerhouse in the process.

With freshman quarterback Michael Vick, the Hokies were No. 2 when they came to Mountaineer Field in 1999. A late rally by WVU put the Mountaineers up by one point late, but Vick drove V.T. down the field and Shayne Graham nailed a field goal to win it as time expired — a game dubbed “The Miracle in Morgantown” by V.T. fans.

After dominant performances by the Hokies in 2000 and 2001, a classic took place in Blacksburg in 2002. Two late stops by WVU’s defense — including a goal-line stand by Grant Wiley and interception by Brian King — sealed a win over No. 12 V.T.

Many believe that win catapulted WVU into the national conversation under Rich Rodriguez, and it continued the following season when the Mountaineers blasted No. 3 V.T., 28-3, under the lights at Mountaineer Field.

Still, the Hokies won the final two meetings in 2004 and 2005 to keep the Black Diamond Trophy the last 12 years.

It’s been 12 years since the Mountaineers and Hokies have battled thanks to conference realignment. The fifth-year seniors on both teams were in elementary school in 2005.

The players may have to learn the rivalry, but the fan bases certainly do not. Two top 25 teams will not only hope to grab an early important win, but to either keep or reclaim the Black Diamond Trophy.

Follow Sean Manning on Twitter @SeanManning_DP. Email: smanning@dominionpost.com.