THERE ARE many reasons why West Virginia's football game Saturday at Maryland is important.
WVU must win to validate its Top 25 poll rankings. The Mountaineers need to win to bolster the Big East, which sagged last week.
Many (although I'm not one) subscribe to the theory the matchup's outcome is an indicator of how the teams will fare going forward. There's also that side rivalry of the Big East versus the ACC.
However, this series has become a little more important for WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen for another reason. And that reason can be found if you scan the recruiting commitment list.
So far, West Virginia has 18 commitments supposedly signing letters of intent in February, and one-third of those commitments come from the Maryland-Baltimore-Washington, D.C. area.
Obviously, Holgorsen and new recruiting coordinator Alex Hammond have targeted the area and have made success there a priority.
It seems to be paying off. The Mountaineers not only have a large number of recruits from the swath, but, according to recruiting analysts, quality.
One of WVU's top two headliners in the shaping 2012 class (the other is 6-foot-4, 290-pound offensive lineman Tyler Orlosky) is Deontay McManus, a consensus four-star wide receiver from Dunbar High in Baltimore.
McManus reportedly turned down schools like Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Auburn, Georgia and, yes, Maryland to commit to WVU.
But there's more. The other five from the area committed to the Mountaineers have been rated a three (of five stars) from at least one of the two major recruiting services, Rivals and Scout.
They are wideout Trevor Williams and defensive back Da'Quan Davis of Towson, Md.; athlete Albert Reid of Washington, D.C.; linebacker Sam Lebbie of Hyattsville, Md.; and Jarrod Harper of Frostburg, Md.
As you may know, the Big East followed a perfect first week with a less-than-impressive second week. (You get a hunch it's not a sparkling week for a BCS conference when its league representatives send a release that starts: "The most impressive performance came in Tampa, Fla., as USF rolled to a 37-7 win against Ball State.")
Anyway, rather than rehash the missed opportunities, let's look ahead. After falling to Vanderbilt last week, Connecticut hosts Iowa State. Pitt is at Iowa. (Apparently, it's Hawkeye State Week.) Louisville is at Kentucky. Syracuse is at USC.