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Terps only link to WVU’s football past

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia faces Maryland Saturday in an NFL stadium, a game between old rivals who have played 32 times over the last 33 years in a series that is seldom dull.

In other words, this week is nothing like last, when the Mountaineers played Georgia State.

"It's something our guys are going to be fired up about playing,'' West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday. "We didn't have to motivate them much [Sunday] when we went back to work. Last week was a work in progress when it came to getting our guys motivated to play. This week all of that will take care of itself.''

Here is essentially what the Maryland game (3:30 p.m. kickoff, ESPNU) is for West Virginia - a link to the past. In fact, it's about the only link to the past now that the Mountaineers are playing in the Big 12.

Consider that in the school's media guide there is a page devoted to the series history with each school on this year's schedule. A few years ago, there were two pages. There were long-running rivalries with teams like Pitt and Syracuse and Rutgers. It wasn't that long ago that a series with Virginia Tech had to be chronicled, too.

This year, there is the series with Maryland, which dates to 1919. This will be the 50th game between the teams. The second most-played "rival" is William & Mary, but only because the teams played 16 times between 1954 and 1972.

After that, no other 2013 WVU opponent has faced the Mountaineers more than five times previously. And many of those games were decades ago.

Perhaps that will change in the coming years. Virginia Tech is back on the schedule and Penn State could be, too, but neither game will likely be played until at least 2020. Holgorsen mentioned Monday that athletic director Oliver Luck is in talks with Pitt and Virginia, but who knows if anything will ever pan out there?

So as far as old rivals are concerned, Maryland is it. WVU carries a seven-game winning streak in the series. The Terps won four in a row and five of six before that. The Mountaineers lead the series 26-21-2.

But even an old series will have a new twist this season, the game scheduled for M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, the home of the Ravens.

It's certainly not a neutral field by any stretch of the imagination, but the location has to favor the Mountaineers over playing in College Park. It's not Maryland's home field and it's in a region that WVU has mined in recruiting quite successfully in recent years, including grabbing Tavon Austin from there. The team's highest-rated commitment for next season, quarterback William Crest, is from Baltimore.

"Maryland is a huge recruiting base for us and it's an important game for our fans,'' Holgorsen said. "And it's an important game for them and their fans, as well. It's always big in recruiting.''

BRIEFLY: The Big 12 announced Monday that next week's game between WVU and Oklahoma State in Morgantown will be a noon start. The game will be televised by either ABC, ESPN or ESPNU, the final decision on that coming after this Saturday's games.

Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

WVU vs. Maryland

  • Where: Baltimore
  • When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
  • TV: ESPNU
  • Line: Maryland by 41/2
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