College football rivalries can be a fickle thing.
Some people might say that Texas is West Virginia’s biggest rival in the Big 12. The two programs have played some close and contentious games since the Mountaineers joined the conference in 2012. None bigger than WVU’s win in 2018 with David Sills V’s now-infamous horns down gesture and quarterback Will Grier’s walk-off two-point conversion.
But forming a rivalry takes time. It takes both teams, both programs and both fanbases having legitimate disdain for one another. In regards to West Virginia (4-2, 3-2 Big 12) and Texas (4-2, 3-2), WVU head coach Neal Brown does not think it has risen to that level yet.
“We’re excited to play Texas, I don’t necessarily believe it’s a rivalry game,” Brown said Tuesday.
The Longhorns defeated WVU 42-31 in Morgantown last season, the first of a five-game losing streak for the Mountaineers. The two are 4-4 in eight meetings since WVU joined the Big 12. Not a rivalry game, Brown said it is still important because it’s a Big 12 matchup.
“I think our natural rivalries are kind of in our geographic footprint,” Brown explained. “I don’t think Texas is looking at West Virginia as a rivalry, it’s a Big 12 conference game, which means it’s important.”
Brown said it is important to treat every game the same and not worry so much about who are or are not rivals.
“The way I look at it, in football it’s different,” Brown started. “In baseball you play a lot of games, basketball you play a lot of games. Football, you usually play 12, 13, 15 at the most. This year we’re playing 10 and you better be ready to go every game.”
Even if the two teams are not rivals, Brown said playing at Texas is exciting because of the history and tradition of the Longhorns’ program.
“Is there going to be extra juice because we’re playing Texas? Not in my opinion, honestly,” Brown said. “They’re the next team and we respect them. I’ve got a ton of respect for Texas, the history of that program, I think it’s a great experience for our guys to go to Austin and play in that stadium that has so much tradition. But I don’t think it’s a rivalry game. I could be wrong, I don’t think Texas probably looks at it like that either, It’s just a Big 12 conference game that is vitally important for both teams who are trying to stay in the fight to get to Dallas.”
WVU and Texas will kick off at noon Saturday in Austin, Texas. The game will be broadcast on ABC. WVU opened as touchdown underdogs against the Longhorns.