Prepare for some heresy, folks. At least, it’s probably heresy to people who think geography is the end-all and be-all of a rivalry.
Indeed, Maryland-West Virginia has geography working in its favor. The schools are separated by a little more than 200 miles of (mostly) interstate highway.
It also has relative longevity on its side. Since 1980, the schools have met in football for all but two years (2008-09).
But at some point, doesn’t there have to be riveting, tight games rather than just tales of dodging beer bottles and a well-organized fanbase invading from the mountains taking over parking lots outside of Byrd Stadium?
(For the record, I’ve never seen a beer bottle thrown in Morgantown and actually found Mountaineer fans to be incredibly courteous as I tried to get down to field level last year as the game ended —- a swimming-against-the-tide action that often doesn’t go well. As for the the horde of supporters filling up Lot 1, that was true when West Virginia played at Byrd in 2007).
Of the teams’ last 16 meetings, only one was decided by 10 points or less. That was 2004, when the Mountaineers snapped a four-game skid in the series and started their current five-game run with a 19-16 victory in overtime.
By comparison, five of Maryland’s last 16 games against Clemson were single-digit games. Same for Florida State and Virginia. Nine of the last 16 Maryland-N.C. State games were decided by less than 10 points.
Meanwhile, the Mountaineers’ average margin of victory over the last four meetings is 15 points. Maryland’s average margin during its four-game run in the early Aughts was 26 points.
In short, it’s a consistent home-and-home loaded with drubbings, not drama over the last decade and a half. Maybe that changes Saturday when the No. 18 Mountaineers visit Maryland; if it does, it would be a spark to series that’s looked like a rivalry more to Rand McNally than anyone else of late.
—- Patrick Stevens