The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

November 27, 2009

WVU, Pitt renew longtime rivalry tonight

MORGANTOWN — The University of Pittsburgh, the nation’s ninth-ranked football team, has waited two weeks to play this 102nd renewal of The Backyard Brawl.

That is nothing to the two years West Virginia University has waited for this game.

True, the teams renewed the rivalry last year with the Panthers winning, 19-15, but that was in Pittsburgh.

Now the Mountaineers, their season teetering precariously on the brink and with the Gator Bowl suddenly an achievable goal, get Pitt at home with a chance to ruin their dream season just as the Panthers ruined theirs two years ago with a 13-9 upset.

Kickoff is at 7 tonight.

“It’s heated,” WVU wide receiver Carmen Connelly, a Pittsburgh kid who came to Morgantown to play, said of the rivalry. “All week you can tell it’s something different. This isn’t Louisville. This is the Backyard Brawl.”

The weak of heart need not apply. The week of body can’t survive.

“The last time they were here they abused us,” added Don Barclay, another Pittsburgh kid who came to Morgantown and who starts at left tackle for the Mountaineers. “They took something from us, and we want to get it back.”

While revenge would be sweet, it would not be complete.

When Pitt came in as a four-touchdown underdog, the Mountaineers felt they were on the verge of their first national championship. Ranked No. 1 in one poll, they were assured a spot in the BCS championship game with a victory and will argue to this day that they would have beaten the Ohio State team that showed up that day.

A WVU victory would certainly crush Pitt’s national reputation, but the Panthers would still be able to claim a share of the Big East title and earn the BCS bowl bid by upsetting Cincinnati next week.

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Bob Herzel
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