"Let the rivalry begin." Those four words, uttered by head coach Randy Edsall following Maryland's 20-19 win over Penn State in State College on Saturday, in a way summed up how a lot of Maryland fan were feeling heading into this match-up with that team from Pennsylvania. For years, Maryland fans have had to endure the same narrative about the Nittany Lions' dominance over the Terps in football; just one win, a tie, and thirty five losses. While a lot of those loses were also blow out, there were several games that were within eight points, but no matter what, Maryland never seemed able to get over the hump and beat the Nittany Lions.
But with Maryland's move to the Big Ten this season, many hoped that the Terps could turn it around a begin a new chapter against Penn State. Perhaps a regular match up between the two school would develop into a rivalry that both programs so desperately want. Maryland has West Virginia and Navy, but they've always lacked that true conference rival in the ACC that brought out that pride and passion within the fan base. Virginia, despite their proximity, never really fit the bill in football. Other ACC schools had another true rival , like Duke and UNC.
Penn State, which for years was an independent, joined the Big Ten in 1993, but hasn't really developed a consistently strong rivalry with one of the tradition-rich B1G schools.
Penn State always seemed like the logical choice for a football rivalry with Maryland, but their dominance over the Terps made it seem like a far fetched idea that could never work. But that all changed when Maryland moved to the B1G, where they'll now face PSU yearly as a fellow member of the conference's eastern division.
"Let the rivalry begin now," Edsall said following the game. "There should be a trophy for this game. It's a bordering state. Let's have some fun. Let's really make it competitive ... That's what it's all about. You couldn't ask for something better. If I was a fan watching this game, you got your money's worth."
Based on what happened prior to the game today, you certainly thought this was a game between two heated rivals. A scuffle before kickoff, subsequently followed by Maryland's captains refusing to shake hands with Penn State's captains prior to the coin flip, started the game off with a bit of a flare, as tempers boiled over. And while the refusal to shake hands wasn't very sportsmanlike, Maryland's actions seemed to get into the heads of Penn State players. The Terps gave off an attitude that demonstrated that they weren't afraid of playing PSU, on the road, at Beaver Stadium.
"I am 1-0 against Penn State; this team is 1-0 against Penn State," said Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown, who hails from outside Pittsburgh, just a few hours from State College. "Obviously, the past is the past, but going forward it is definitely a border battle."
While the debate rages on online about whether Maryland is and or will develop into a rival of Penn State's, another important implication of Saturday's win was how it could potentially impact the Terps on the recruiting trail.
For a long time, Maryland has battled with Penn State over local recruits, often competing with the PSU staff who are attempting to pluck away some of the fantastic talent in Maryland's backyard. Having not played the Terps since 1993, Penn State's staff could easily pitch the Nittany Lions' record against Maryland and sell them on the promise of the future. But after Saturday's win, Maryland finally has the opportunity to counter that point, showing that Maryland is no longer the team that will get pushed around and roll over when they play Penn State. For the next year, Maryland can brag about their win over PSU on the recruiting trail.
If this is going to develop into a rivalry, Maryland is going to have to continue to win and not go another 53 years before beating Penn State again .All the potential is there for this to blossom into a bitter rivalry between the flagship Universities of two border states.
Let the rivalry begin, indeed.