WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS
Heinz Field (65,050/Natural Grass)
ABC — Beth Mowins, Ray Bentley and Quint Kessenich
West Virginia Radio
Mountaineer Sports Network
Sirius 121; XM 141
KDKA-FM 93.7 (flagship)
THE GAME• THE BACKYARD BRAWL
The Backyard Brawl is the oldest and most-played active BIG EAST rivalry … Pittsburgh and West Virginia first met in 1895 and have played 102 times prior to Friday’s game … The schools have met every year since 1943 … Pittsburgh holds a 61-38-3 series lead … West Virginia took last year’s Brawl 19-16 at Milan Puskar Stadium … The most memorable recent matchup was in 2007, when Pittsburgh scored a 13-9 win in Morgantown to keep West Virginia from a likely spot in the BCS National Championship Game.
WEST VIRGINIA (7-3, 3-2 BIG EAST)
Bill Stewart (Fairmont State ’75)
25-11, third season at West Virginia
33-36, sixth year as collegiate head coach
West Virginia enters the Backyard Brawl as the winner of two straight and comes in one game behind Pittsburgh in the BIG EAST standings … The Mountaineers would clinch at least a share of the BIG EAST title with wins in their last two games … A loss to Pittsburgh would eliminate the Mountaineers from the BIG EAST race … West Virginia remains the only team in the nation that has not allowed more than 21 points in a game this season … The Mountaineers rank fourth nationally in scoring defense (12.9 ppg) and total defense (245.1 ypg) while leading the BIG EAST in both categories … West Virginia ranks fifth nationally in sacks (3.2 per game) … RB Noel Devine has rushed for 828 yards and six touchdowns … QB Geno Smith has thrown for 2,003 yards and 19 touchdowns with six interceptions … WR Jock Sanders is second in the BIG EAST in receptions (5.4 per game), while WR Tavon Austin is fourth (4.5 per game) … CB Keith Tandy leads the BIG EAST with six interceptions while DE Bruce Irvin has a conference-leading 10 sacks.
PITTSBURGH (6-4, 4-1 BIG EAST)
Dave Wannstedt (Pittsburgh ’74)
41-30, sixth season
Pittsburgh enters its last two regular-season games in the proverbial driver’s seat with regard to the BIG EAST championship … The Panthers would win the outright BIG EAST title for the first time if they win their remaining two games … Pittsburgh would claim at least a share of the BIG EAST championship with a win against West Virginia … Pittsburgh’s only BIG EAST title to date was in 2004, when the Panthers were part of a four-way tie for first … The Panthers are 4-1 at home this season … QB Tino Sunseri has completed 66.7 percent of his passes (172 of 258) and has thrown for 2,034 yards and 14 touchdowns with just six interceptions … RB Ray Graham (89.3 yards per game, eight touchdowns) and RB Dion Lewis (73.4 ypg, eight touchdowns) make for one of the top backfield tandems in the nation … WR Jon Baldwin has 42 receptions for 677 yards and five touchdowns … In addition to the running back tandem, the Panthers boast a top-flight defensive end duo … DE Brandon Lindsey is tied for the conference lead in sacks (10) and is the outright leader in tackles for loss (14) … DE Jabaal Sheard is third in the BIG EAST with nine sacks.