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Has West Virginia Found a Rival?

Posted: Updated:
Michael Ploger -

When you think of a current rivalry involving the Mountaineers, it may be hard to think of their opponent.

Sure, there will always be Pitt, and perhaps Marshall, but as the years go on, these rivalries could begin to fade.  West Virginia and Pitt didn't play a second against each other in either football or basketball this year, and that's something fans need to get used to.

So, that begs the question, is there a school out there West Virginia University rivals?  The question is tough to answer, but below may help in sorting out an answer.  Keep in mind, the schools listed are all currently Big 12 members, as they seem to have the best chance for longevity with WVU.

The first thing a rivalry needs is history, which is difficult to find with any of the Big 12 teams.  Most of the games in football were the first ever meetings between two schools, while basketball saw teams for the first time in decades.

So, there's history to be made, and made it was.  As the first year in the conference comes to a close, let's take a look at a few teams in the conference who could become major WVU foes in the years to come.

Oklahoma Sooners

With three basketball games, a one-point finish in football, and even tough competing gymnastics teams, this matchup may take the cake.

All Mountaineer fans remember the November 17 football when the Mountaineers fell to the Sooners after a Landry Jones touchdown pass with just 24 seconds remaining.  The same game Tavon Austin torched the Sooners secondary for 344 yards rushing; not to mention Stedman Bailey gathering four touchdown catches and 205 yards receiving.

And then there's basketball, where WVU never got a grip on the Sooners.  Bob Huggins' squad lost by 7, 10, and 13 in three games scattered throughout the basketball season.  This is where the rivalry loses ground.

But then comes a sport somewhat behind the lines.  Both schools have gymnastics teams ranked tops in the nation.  The Sooners team is ranked second in the country, while WVU gymnastics is currently No. 26.  The two recently battled in the Big 12 Championships, where the Sooners once again nabbed the Mountaineers by finishing second, and WVU third.

This is no Red-River Rivalry by any means, but it could be on it's way to it's own special matchup.

Baylor Bears

Once again, football comes to mind with this school.  One of the most thrilling games in all of college football last years at Milan Puskar Stadium consisted of these two schools.  A game that combined for 163 points, with only seven separating the final score.  West Virginia came out on top behind Geno Smith, his six incompletions, and eight touchdown passes.

Women's soccer also saw a crazy finish.  With just 13 seconds left, Baylor tied notched the game at one on a direct kick after a penalty.  The teams would play two overtime periods before it ended in a 1-1 draw.  Both schools were ranked in the top 20 at the time.

The basketball teams of West Virginia couldn't find the same success.  The men once lost by 20, and the women couldn't handle Britney Griner as WVU dropped that game by 31 points.

Texas Longhorns

This rivalry comes from the hardwood.  Two games, separated by a total of six points, both of which the Mountaineers came out on top.  After trailing by 10 with under four minutes to go, WVU pulled out an overtime victory in the first game on January 9.  Then on February 4, it was WVU holding off a 16-3 Longhorn run in the final minutes in order to win.

It was another overtime game in women's soccer that creates some tension between schools.  In the 98th minute, Kara Blosser finished off a corner kick to give West Virginia a victory in the regular season finale.

For football, it was a game where the Mountaineers peaked.  They won in Austin to march on to a 5-0 record, and fans everywhere started thinking of buying BCS Championship tickets.  WVU was No. 8, Texas was No. 11, and the game ended in a three-point differential just as their ranking did.

That's the top three at this point.  Of course, other teams could develop into better fits, but to this day and time, these are the standouts. 
The Big 12 baseball season recently began, so beware of more rivalries in the making that could be just days away.

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