WVU Preps for "Border War" with Maryland - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Preps for "Border War" with Maryland

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MORGANTOWN -

When West Virginia University made the decision to transition from a dying Big East Conference to a new affiliation in the Big 12, one of the major casualties in the move was the loss of rivalries.

Gone was Pittsburgh and Syracuse and the other conference rivals that had longer, and more geographically sound, histories with the Mountaineers. There is an opportunity to add back some of these rivalries to the schedule, but future meetings wouldn't have the meaning that a conference matchup did.

Regardless of how the Marshall series was viewed, it was at least a team with which WVU had familiarity and therefore the fan bases could bring up all of the old jokes and jabs in the week leading up to the game. Only one game remains on the schedule with the sort of track record that makes for a solid dislike between the two teams: Maryland.

When the Mountaineers hop on their bus and drive the four hours to Baltimore this weekend, they'll be preparing for the 50th meeting between the two programs. They will be looking to bring home WVU's 27th win in the series and its eighth-straight dating back to the 2004 overtime victory.

Senior defensive lineman Shaq Rowell has become the team's historian of late, and when you ask him anything regarding West Virginia football, he will rattle off a list of statistics to assure you that he is quite away not only of the program's history, but also the state as a whole.

When Rowell was asked about this series with the Terrapins, it was again clear that he had done his homework.

"It is just like playing Pitt, it is a rivalry," said Rowell. "A lot of the other guys do not really know about this rivalry but we have played Maryland 49 times since 1919 and have beat them the last seven times. I know Maryland will come out this weekend wanting to beat us."

Rowell didn't have a stat sheet in his hands, he just committed to memory the depth of the rivalry in order to impress upon his teammates just what it means.

He is right in that "a lot of the other guys" likely don't have much of an idea just how much the Maryland game means as many of WVU's key contributors this season are new to the program in the past two seasons. They don't know much other than the Big 12 and plenty of them weren't around to experience a Backyard Brawl.

This is their rivalry.

"Ever since I've been here, we've been playing them and Coach [Dana] Holgorsen told us, I guess they're going to be on the schedule for another seven years or so," said senior offensive lineman Pat Eger. "I'm going to be gone, but this is the only border war that we have left, so it means a lot to go down there and play them and keep this rivalry going."

After a week of preparation for one of the worst teams in the FBS, Holgorsen has a much easier task getting his players up and ready for the Terps.

"I can't tell you how excited our team is to play Maryland this week," the head coach said. "We got going on Sunday and immediately put the Georgia State game to rest. It's something our boys are looking forward to. We don't have many regional rivalries left -- this is the only one that we play this year."

Two of WVU's more successful seniors from a year ago – Tavon Austin and Terence Garvin – hailed from Maryland and therefore made quite a big deal about the upcoming game. This year, five Mountaineers call Maryland home.

"It's going to be fun, of course. We've got a big history with them and then we have a lot of players from Maryland and in that area, so a lot of their friends and family are coming and they know a lot of players on their team," said Florida native K.J. Myers. "I feel like it's going to be a good experience and each team is going to go at it and we both have something to prove to the world."

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