MORGANTOWN - What's better than four border-war games between West Virginia and Maryland? How about eight?
Earlier this week, West Virginia Athletics Director Oliver Luck announced the Maryland football series will be extended for four more years.
The contract, which alternated home fields each year, had been in place until 2013. The new one begins at Maryland in 2014, then twice in Morgantown (2015 and 2016), before ending at College Park in 2017.
The series was played every year from 1980-2007, then took a hiatus after the Mountaineers had polished off the Terps a fourth straight time, their longest winning streak in the series. That came on the heels of a four-game winning streak by the Terps.
West Virginia coach Bill Stewart is glad to have them back.
''I, personally, being a native West Virginian, am excited for the chance to play the Maryland Terrapins,'' he said. ''It has been a great rivalry throughout the years.
''I coached with (Maryland assistant coach/offensive line coach) Tommy Bratton at William and Mary. I replaced (head coach) Ralph Friedgen as the offensive line coach at William and Mary in 1981. I've know five to six of those coaches throughout my entire coaching career. It's always been a dandy of a game. It's a heck of a border war; this is a great border rivalry when two nearby states can play. I'm really happy about that.''
It's no secret Maryland football has fallen on hard times. The once-proud (and ranked) Terps, who have lost eight straight road games, have already matched last season's victory total at two with triumphs vs. Navy and Morgan State.
In doing so, it looks like they've gotten back to a more familiar-looking Maryland team.
''Maryland is always big,'' WVU linebacker J.T. Thomas said. ''I told some of the younger guys about that. When I watched them play when I was a redshirt freshman, I'd say that's probably one of the biggest teams I've ever seen roll in here.
''And that showed me that it's not about how big a team is, it's about knowing what you're doing and doing it with an aggressive attitude.''
That's what West Virginia, minus suspended starting cornerback Brandon Hogan, will have to bring against the Terps and their quarterback tandem of junior Jamarr Robinson, a running threat, and Danny O'Brien, a passer, who have combined to lead the Terps to 310 yards per game.
''They're two very good quarterbacks,'' Stewart said. ''Our defense is working hard, and they're going to have their hands full. They both move the ball very, very well and can move the chains. They've won two games; it's going to be a very difficult task for our defense.''
The West Virginia defense, through two games, does not have a sack, but it's yielded just three touchdowns - all against Marshall last week.
''I don't know about sacks,'' Thomas said. ''What I do know is our job is to stop the other team from getting in the end zone. Whether it is sacking a quarterback or getting a hit on him or getting interceptions, whatever you have to do. At the end of the day, the job is to stop the other team from scoring. I don't count how many sacks we get. I'm not worried about that too much.''
Maryland's top receiver is Torrey Smith, who is fourth in school history in all-purpose yards. He has 89 career catches, good enough for 15th all-time at Maryland. Of his four catches this season, two have gone for touchdowns.
Running back Davin Meggett leads the Terps with 77.5 rushing yards per game. He's complemented by Da'Rel Scott, who has 1,793 career rushing yards, including 100 on 18 carries this season.
Robinson is the team's second-leading rusher with 128 yards on 17 carries.
Linebacker Alex Wujciak has a team-high 23 tackles, while defensive tackle Joe Vellano has 2.5 sacks and four tackles for loss.
''I look at their two-deep, and they've got some very good football players,'' Stewart said.''At running back, they've got two dandies. They've got a big offensive line and nice tight ends. Their defense is good; their punter (Travis Baltz) is averaging 46 yards each time. This is a very good football team and it's going to be a heck of a game.''