The Maryland-West Virginia football rivalry may not be what it once was, with the Terps rebounding from a 2-10 season and freshmen throughout the two-deep this fall and West Virginia soaring to a top-10 rankings in its Big 12 debut. But Mountaineers Coach Dana Holgorsen still sees value in a regional matchup slated to continue into the foreseeable future.
“Yeah, it is,” Holgorsen said when asked during the weekly Big 12 teleconference if the rivalry is still alive in Morgantown. “Neighboring states, go way back. It’s one existing game that’s going to continue to be played, and I’ve made reference to this a lot as far as the non-conference schedule needing to be very regional.”
After stomping Marshall 69-34 in the opener, West Virginia had an early bye week before making the short trip to FedEx Field to face James Madison. Holgorsen praised his team’s 42-12 romp as “tremendous for our fans.” Playing at Byrd Stadium last season against Maryland provided the same opportunity for local Mountaineer supporters to travel, as will next year’s matchup against the Terps at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
“This is one that remains on the schedule, because it’s one that has so much meaning,” Holgorsen said. “We have dozen or so guys from Maryland that know their players, and we go up against Maryland a lot in recruiting, so there’s a lot of familiarity between the two programs.”
Over the season’s first two weeks, Holgorsen took time at home to watch Maryland on television, as the Terps moved to 2-0 with victories over William & Mary and Temple. Of course, Stefon Diggs stood out, with his 223 all-purpose yards in Saturday’s loss to Connecticut.
This drew comparisons to West Virginia return specialist Tavon Austin, a first-team All-American as a junior when he finished with 101 receptions, 1,186 receiving yards, 1,206 return yards including a 100-yard jaunt, and 11 total touchdowns.
“He’s a lot like Tavon is, their number one return guy, a receiver they get the ball to in a number of ways,” Holgorsen said. “He’s quick-twitched. I’ve seen their last two games on TV, sitting around watching it as a fan, and he does have some of the same traits [as Wilson]. He’s a guy we’ll have to focus on and contain.”