It's been that way with inarguably the best measuring stick of success for each program over the life of the soon-to-be 46-game series. The Mountaineers built upon the 2004 win by physically pounding the Terps in College Park a year later, then served up a déjà vu-like spin on the series in 2006 when Steve Slaton, originally a UM commit, pranced through the secondary for 195 yards and two scores to mimic Scott McBrien's earlier lefty gun-slinging of his former school. That back-and-forth struggle will be renewed one final time this year before going on a two-season hiatus in 2008 and '09 at the request of Maryland, who wished to play California in a two-game set. West Virginia agreed, and thus far the series has been extended only to 2010 and '11. So it seems a good time to take a peek inside the rivalry that has become the single greatest indicator of the direction, and future season success, of the two programs.
When West Virginia beats Maryland, as it has done 22 times against 21 losses and two ties, it has compiled a 178-70-3 record (.715) and gone to 15 of its 26 bowl games – including a whopping eight straight and 13 of the last 15. In years West Virginia has lost, it has reached postseason play just five times and has a 99-118-6 record (.457) with just six winning seasons. The Mountaineers have a lone losing season when they beat Maryland, that coming in 1977.
In the last 20 games, West Virginia has won 12 times to Maryland's eight, and its current three-game winning streak ties its longest in the series. That stretch has been duplicated three other times (1969, ‘70 and '73; ‘81-83; and '96-98), including the first streak, during which two games were won against teams employing Friedgen as a graduate assistant. The Terrapins, conversely, have won as many as six in a row, those coming in 1949-51, '59-60 and '66. UM outscored the Mountaineers 228-38 during that time, and WVU's total points in the six games just matched Maryland's average score as the Terrapins' mean win was 38-6. That's close to the 39-12 average score over UM's most recent four-game win streak (155-49 total scoring), from 2001-Jan. 2004.
The border battle has also provided some major memories, like those of West Virginia's Major Harris tossing for multiple scores as the squad gained a school series-record 347 rushing yards in ringing up 55 points at home against Maryland in 1988. That game was considered little more than a precursor to the following week, when WVU proved its national mettle with a dominant 31-10 win at Pitt that placed it in perfect position for the throttling of Penn State and an unbeaten campaign.
The 1919 contest, the first in the 45-game history, was the fourth game played by West Virginia after an influenza outbreak and World War I coupled to cancel the 1918 season. The 27-0 victory in Morgantown was WVU's third shutout in what would be five spotless defensive outings in the first six games. Then, the back-to-back series ties in 1944 and '45 were a prelude to another 27-0 pasting, this time by the Terps in College Park. That was the start of five consecutive seasons of play (Maryland went 4-1), the longest series stretch before it became a permanent fixture in 1980.
One of the funkier affairs was in 1992, when West Virginia rallied from down two scores in the fourth quarter to win 34-33 in a heavy rainstorm. Quarterback Darren Studstill threw a late touchdown pass for the win in front of way fewer than the 55,727 listed attendance. One year later, Studstill and Jake Kelchner split time in a slick night game in College Park that was West Virginia's most difficult non-conference away test of the season. The Mountaineers rode Kelchner's 270-yard passing performance before defensive back Harold Kidd's late interception sealed a 42-37 win. The victory built momentum and led to a series of tight wins against Virginia Tech (14-13 on a missed 44-yard field goal), Louisville (36-34 against current Cardinal quarterbacks coach Jeff Brohm, then under center for U of L), at Boston College (17-14 after trailing 14-3 with 13 minutes remaining) and against Miami (17-14, won on state native Robert Walker's 19-yard scoring run with little more than five minutes left).
The games have also been a boom-or-bust for Maryland. The Terps jump started Friedgen's career when they beat West Virginia the first four times the teams met from 2001-04. The opening win, 32-20, came in College Park when WVU committed five turnovers. It made Friedgen just the second head coach in school history (1912, H.C. "Curley" Byrd – the stadium's namesake) to start his UM career with four straight wins. The 2004 bowl conquest gave Maryland 10 wins for the third time in as many seasons, the best stretch since it won three consecutive ACC championships from 1983-85. West Virginia actually beat Maryland on its home field in 1983, 31-21, then played within a field goal at Mountaineer Field in '84 (20-17) in a season in which that was WVU's only loss in its first eight games.
That three-point 1984 victory began the Terps' four-game winning streak through 1987, only to give way to Mountaineer dominance for the next 11 years. West Virginia won eight times over the period, emerging as a national title contender twice and helping Maryland reel to a 41-79-2 overall record and go through three coaches, none of whom compiled a winning percentage better than .366. WVU's Don Nehlen, meanwhile, was compiling a 79-46-3 record on the way to winning 202 career games (149 at West Virginia) and becoming a Hall of Fame coach. Since 1998, the teams have split eight regular season games entering Thursday's match-up at Byrd Stadium.