MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – (December 21, 2020) — On Sunday afternoon, the Autozone Liberty Bowl announced that they invited West Virginia and Tennessee to play each other in their bowl game on New Year’s Eve in Memphis.
It wasn’t long ago that the Mountaineers and Volunteers have played each other in a college football game.
September 1, 2018 / Bank of America Stadium / Charlotte, NC
West Virginia was an entirely different team just two seasons ago led by former coach Dana Holgorsen and current NFL quarterback Will Grier.
If you want a good indicator of how long ago this game was Leddie Brown, Josh Chandler-Semedo, Mike O’Laughlin, Exree Loe, Sam James and Alec Sinkfield were just freshmen during this season.
Darius Stills was only a sophomore.
The No. 17-ranked Mountaineers and Volunteers entered this game as being the first game of the season for both teams, rather than being the last game of the year for this year’s matchup.
Tennessee hasn’t changed too much as they still had head coach Jeremy Pruitt running the program in 2018.
It was all fun and games for the Mountaineers on this crisp afternoon in the Queen City.
On the first drive of the game, Grier drove down to set up Evan Staley with a 26-yard field goal.
Mid-way through the first, WVU once again struck the scoreboard with Grier finding T.J. Simmons for a 59-yard touchdown to make it an early 10-0 lead.
The Volunteers found the end zone in the second quarter but Staled once again hit a field goal at the end of the first half to take the Mountaineers into the locker room with a 13-7 lead.
In the second half, WVU beat down UT like it was nothing. The Mountaineers scored four touchdowns in the final 30 minutes of the contest, the Volunteers scored once.
Grier was able to find David Stills and Gary Jennings each for a touchdown in the third, while Kennedy McKoy rushed into the end zone once.
West Virginia capped off the incredible day as Grier found Stills once again in the fourth quarter to seal the game, 40-14.
Grier finished with 429 passing yards and five touchdowns. The current Carolina Panther also had zero turnovers.
Martell Pettaway led West Virginia in rushing with 56 yards on eight carries.
If you’re curious, Brown, who was suiting up for the Mountaineers in his first game ever, rushed for 33 yards on eight carries.
Stills and Jennings had a day against the Vols, combining for 253 receiving yards on 13 receptions. The pair also had three touchdowns between the two.
Reese Donahue was the only defender on WVU to take down the Volunteers’ quarterback in the last matchup between the two schools.
The present-day West Virginia Mountaineers (5-4, 4-4 Big 12), now led by coach Neal Brown, will look to repeat history as they take on Tennessee Volunteers (3-7, 3-7 SEC) in the Autozone Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31.