Rivalry with Terps brings its own form of excitment
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 07:09
Crab cakes and football – that’s what Maryland does. Sounds like a pretty good way to spend a Saturday, right?
With the elimination of annual football contests against teams like Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and Penn State, Maryland has become the closest thing to a big-time, steady rival we’ve seen on the football schedule.
Just like I do during any game week, I
researched the background between Maryland and West Virginia and
found some interesting things I did not know before.
For instance, did you know that prior to a temporary lapse in 2007, the Maryland vs. West Virginia game was the longest continuously running non-conference game for both teams?
That’s right; every year between 1980 and 2007, the two universities brought their fan bases and local flavor to College Park, Md., and Morgantown on alternating years.
For comparative purposes, if West Virginia started a series with, say, Virginia Tech next season it would take until the year 2040 to match that feat. Hey, it could happen … right?
One of the big things the series with Marshall lacked was competitiveness, whereas this series with Maryland has plenty.
In 1951, the Terrapins pummeled West Virginia 54-7 – the largest margin of victory in the 48-game series.
Don’t fret, Mountaineer fans, because West Virginia has owned the matchup as of late. If West Virginia wins Saturday, it will extend its winning streak to seven straight games – the most consecutive wins for either team.
The Mountaineers also hold a slight edge in the all-time record, which is 25-21-2.
Yep, if only West Virginia could have eked out another point in that unforgettable 6-6 tie way
back on October 14, 1944, they could have another win.
All jokes aside, this series is seriously something special. West Virginia continues to recruit high-caliber talent from the Old Line State, and the alumni contingent in the Washington, D.C., area is one of the most largest and prominent in all of the United States.
In 1982, head coach Don Nehlen led the Mountaineers into Norman, Okla., and stormed away with a surprise 41-27 upset against the then-No. 9 Sooners. It was a monumental win – one that set the stage for the following week’s matchup against Maryland.
The ‘82 Terrapins, quarterbacked by future NFL player Boomer Esiason, came to Morgantown looking for a big-time win. Trailing 19-18 with little time to play, Maryland went for a 2-point conversion and was denied,
giving the victory to West Virginia.
The win was an enormous one for both Nehlen and the budding West Virginia football program, and in some ways, it helped pave the way to where it stands today.
So it’s good for the players, good for the fans and good for the
tailgaters. Did I mention those crab cakes? Phenomenal.
Earlier this week, head coach Dana Holgorsen stressed how "important" the series has become, and I have to agree.
That’s why when people suggest the series should be canceled or postponed, I have to say "Erroneous! Erroneous on all counts!"
because it is a good thing.
As a matter of fact, it’s a great thing.
West Virginia fans pride themselves on tradition, and with the shift to the Big 12, a lot of that tradition was ripped away.
This series is a chance to hold on to a part of that tradition and continue to watch it blossom every fall for years to come.
Until this year, I never really understood how valuable a perennial rival was to a team; this is something Mountaineer and Maryland fans
So pick your poison – geographic, demographic, recruiting, competition, tradition, crab cakes – whatever. This series has to go on.
Let’s have some fun with it.