Nonconference matchups in neutral locations are becoming very common in college sports and for West Virginia. In recent years the WVU football team has faced Virginia Tech, BYU, and James Madison at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, and Alabama in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The Mountaineers are also scheduled to take on Tennessee at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina this season, and Florida State at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in 2020. Although many nonconference games are planned years in advance, we’re taking a look at what matchups and locations would interesting for the Mountaineers and their fans.
Old Big East Foes:
Louisville – Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH
The Mountaineers don’t have a long history with the Cardinals, but there have been some interesting games, including a triple overtime victory for WVU in 2005. The Mountaineers lead the series 10-3, but Louisville won the last matchup between the two, making Dana Holgorsen in 0-1 against the Cardinals since he arrived in Morgantown. Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals, would be a closer drive for Cardinal fans, but it would still be a reasonable trip for WVU fans and it is located between the two schools.
Syracuse – MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ
The Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy would be back on the table for this old rivalry. Syracuse currently leads the series 33-27 and has won the last three matchups, including a bowl win in 2012. The Mountaineers are also 0-2 against the Orange under Dana Holgorsen.
Playing at MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and New York Jets, would not be a centralized location for the two teams, but the New York City appeal would likely boost fan attendance if this game were to occur.
Miami – Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA
This series has been fairly one-sided since the old Big East days. Miami currently leads the series 17-3 and the Mountaineers have not defeated the Hurricanes since 1997. The last matchup was in 2016 in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Both fan bases seemed excited for this bowl game, so a neutral site matchup would likely have solid attendance. Playing the game in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, rather than a Florida location, would also make it easier for Mountaineer fans to attend.
Penn State – Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA
The teams haven’t played since 1992, but the Mountaineers are scheduled to play at Penn State in 2023 and host the Nittany Lions in 2024. Penn State has dominated the series in the past, leading 48-9 with two ties. If the upcoming matchups produce exciting and competitive games, it may lead to a third game at a neutral site. Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, would be the ideal neutral location. Although this venue has not seen great fan enthusiasm for its recent college football games, this matchup would likely change that for a day, and the location would provide easy travel for both teams and both fan bases.
Maryland – FedEx Field in Landover, MD
This regional rivalry has been controlled by WVU in recent years and the Mountaineers lead the series 28-22 with two ties. WVU has a two-game winning streak against the Terrapins, with the last game occurring in 2015. The Mountaineers are also 4-1 against Maryland under Dana Holgorsen.
The series is set to restart with two games in 2020 and 2021, and competitive games could lead to another matchup at a neutral site. Playing at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins, would almost be a home game for Maryland, but Mountaineer fans have proven they travel well to the D.C. area.
Ohio State – FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, OH
Despite the close proximity, WVU and OSU have only played each other in football six times. The Mountaineers won the first game in 1897 and the Buckeyes won the next five matchups, the last being in 1998. If this game were to occur, Mountaineer fans would be very excited for the matchup. That’s why FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Cleveland Browns, would be the ideal neutral venue. Cleveland may not be a destination city, but Buckeye fans would probably be more likely to get on board with the game if it stayed in Ohio.
Blue Bloods and Powerhouses:
Alabama – Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN
This is a matchup that Mountaineer fans would definitely want to see. WVU and Alabama played their only game against each other in 2014, when Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide defeated Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers. That game was competitive and took place at the Georgia Dome, so another neutral site game is a realistic idea. Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans, would be the ideal location for this rematch. Nashville is located between the two schools, and Broadway would be an incredible tailgating spot for these two fan bases.
Clemson – Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC
This is a matchup that would be enticing for both sides. The two teams have only played twice. Clemson won the first game, the 1989 Gator Bowl, and WVU dominated the Tigers in the second matchup, the 2012 Orange Bowl.
With the second game in mind, Clemson fans might like the chance to replace that loss with a more recent win. Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers, would be a centralized location and it would likely be a packed house if these two were to play again.
LSU – Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA
Mountaineer fans would love a chance to avenge the losses to LSU in 2010 and 2011, which are the only two games between these two teams. ESPN’s College Gameday was in Morgantown for the 2011 game, and if these two were to play again in New Orleans, College Gameday might want to be there to see it. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints, is definitely closer to LSU, but Mountaineer fans would probably travel well to this destination city.
Notre Dame – Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN
The Fighting Irish have won all four games between these two teams, including the 1989 Fiesta Bowl, which also served as the National Championship game. Since the two have not played since 2001, Mountaineer fans would probably be very eager to take on the Irish again. Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, would be a great venue for this matchup. The stadium is indoors and the proximity to South Bend would probably help in making the game happen.
Some of these matchups are more realistic than others, but with WVU playing more neutral site games in recent years, many of these matchups are very feasible. Let us know which of these neutral site games you would like to see, and stay tuned for the upcoming basketball edition.