Fri 11/25/11 7:00 PM
Cincinnati W 24-21
Louisville W 21-14
Series: Pitt 61-39-3
First Meeting: 1895
Last Meeting: 2010
Pitt has yielded just 19 points in then first quarters this year, and has given up just one touchdown (to USF) in the opening 15 minutes. That has allowed the Panthers to build early leads (which they haven't always been able to hold). WVU hasn't been particularly snappy in the first quarter, scoring just 68 points as the offense sometimes struggles to find rhythm. The first is the only quarter in which WVU has been outscored by its opponents (84-68) this year.
The Backyard Brawl last featured two new head coaches in 1966 when Pitt's Dave Hart faced West Virginia's Jim Carlen. Unfortunately, from the Mountaineer perspective, the Panthers won that contest.
WVU head coaches haven't fared well at all in their first meetings with Pitt. Collectively, Mountaineer mentors squaring off with the Panthers are just 5-21 in their initial games.
RED ZONE THREAT
Pitt has been very successful in the red zone, scoring on 32 of their 35 chances form inside the 20-yard line, with 26 of those being touchdowns. One thing that has helped that efficiency is the running of Tino Sunseri. While the Pitt quarterback isn't the fastest guy around, he has shown the ability to find enough space to dent the end zone of four occasions, with three of those coming in Pitt's last three games. Obviously, some of that has been out of necessity due to the loss of running back Ray Graham, but Sunseri's ability to run it in has given Pitt more versatility in close. West Virginia will have to make sure it accounts for the quarterback when the Panthers get into scoring position.
As the season progressed, it became readily apparent that quarterback Geno Smith would surpass several single-season offensive records. Who could have predicted, though, that four would likely fall in the same game? Barring some out of the ordinary occurrence, that's exactly what will happen on Friday night. Smith trails Marc Bulger in all four categories, and will likely own them all by halftime.
MORE RECORD WATCH
Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are both poised to join batterymate Geno Smith in the single-season record book. Bailey needs just seven receiving yards to pass David Saunders (1,043) in receiving yardage, while Austin needs six catches to pass Saunders (77) in receptions. Bailey is also two touchdown receptions short of Darius Reynaud and Chris Henry (12) in single season scoring catches, while Austin is 141 yards shy of securing the all-purpose yardage record of 2,104, current held by Steve Slaton.
Given an average day in most areas, and a scoring outburst by Bailey, and the Mountaineers could erase eight different single season records on Friday.
Be they stars or practice field warriors, WVU's 22 departing seniors helped forge a stretch that included three nine-win seasons, four bowl appearances (counting this year's to be determined game), 34 wins (and counting) and one Big East title.
The Mountaineers who deserve your cheers on Friday night include:
Soraya Aisien-Ogbebor, Don Barclay, Hunter Bittner, Brantwon Bowser, Devon Brown, Josh Contraguerro, Najee Goode, Bruce Irvin, Ricky Kovatch, Willie Millhouse, Julian Miller, Cody Nutter, Steve Paskorz, Tyler Rader, Eain Smith, Chad Snodgrass, Brad Starks, Keith Tandy, Josh Taylor, Casey Vance, Tyler Urban and Coley White.
WVU has attempted 18 field goals this year, and made 13. Those numbers are exactly the same for West Virginia's opponents this season.