Few college football rivalries can match the intensity and history of the Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia. Since their first face-off in 1895, fans have witnessed some of the most thrilling moments in football history. The rivalry truly took off in the 1950s and 60s, when both teams were among the best in the nation, and the Backyard Brawl could make or break a team’s season. With close scores, hard hits, and passionate fans, this is one rivalry that has stood the test of time. Tonight marks the 106 time that West Virginia and Pitt have clashed, with the Panthers holding the all-time winning record of 62-40-3.
There’s Always Been a Reason to Get Up for the Brawl
Over the years, there have been many memorable moments in the rivalry. In 1975, Pitt famously upset the undefeated and top-ranked West Virginia team with a last-second touchdown pass. In 1988, West Virginia won in triple overtime, with legendary quarterback Major Harris leading the charge. And in 2007, Pitt came out on top in a wild and controversial game that featured multiple lead changes and a final score of 13-9. That would be one of the biggest coals stirred up in this rivalry for recent fans – that these Pitt Panthers kept us from going to the National Championship game against Ohio State. That’s alright, we took our aggression out on Oklahoma, instead and put the boom in Boomer Sooner. To say that this is a game that can go either way, no matter the caliber of squads involved, is an understatement.
What’s At Stake
Since 1960, WVU narrowly edges out Pitt by a 25-23 margin with a couple of ties in the mix. This includes the unfortunate outcome of last year’s game when Ford-Wheaton mistakenly mishandled a pass and allowed Pitt defender Devonshire to intercept and run it back for a touchdown with less than three minutes of the game left to play – effectively sealing the Mountaineers’ fate.
The Famine and the Feast
In 2011, Pitt announced that it was leaving the Big East conference to join the ACC, a move that many West Virginia fans saw as a betrayal. Shortly after, it became apparent that WVU would also need to jump or sink with the Big East ship and would find a home in the Big 12. The two schools have not played each other regularly since then, but last year’s rivalry revival was enough to show both sides of the equation how profitable and desired the matchup was. The series continues beyond tonight’s game for a further two seasons and rejoins the schedule again for another four-game stretch beginning in 2029.
Despite the ups and downs of the rivalry, one thing has remained constant: the fans’ passion. Whether the game is played in Pittsburgh or Morgantown (or Fairmont and Wheeling, as they have also hosted the Backyard Brawl), it’s always loud and always hostile. Those who are heading to the stadium today or watching at home, you are a part of this historic rivalry. We are the reason it continues and stays burning forever.
Today, we are the West Virginia Mountaineer’s twelfth man on the field.
Want to know how much WVU hates Pitt, we don’t miss an opportunity to let someone know – even in a season we aren’t playing them. College Gameday came to Morgantown in 2014 for the thriller of (20) WVU versus (10) TCU, and the hosts decided to play a little “Sweet Caroline.” Those who don’t want to find out the common Panther cuisine should not play this clip Summer Barrett loaded up on her YouTube channel:
Image Credit: WVU Athletics