When: 11/15, 7:00
Stadium: Mountaineer Field
Last Week: BC
Returning Starters: 12
Last Week: VT
Returning Starters: 17
Last Meeting: 2002
Common Opponents to Date: (VT 7 - WVU 28) (VT 28 - Pitt 31) : (Rutgers 19 WVU 34) (Rutgers 32 - Pitt 42) : (BC 28- WVU 35) (BC 13 - Pitt 24)
WVU - Tim Brown (Achilles) Out, Jahmile Addae (Shoulder) Out, Jeff Berk (Toe) Questionable, Rasheed Marshall (Concussion) Probable
Pittsburgh- Brandon Miree (Stress fracture) Questionable.
WVU 4-4, 2-1
Pitt 7-2, 4-0
Sat: 11/15 7:00 pm
Series: Pitt leads 58-34-3
Sagarin: WVU-49 Pitt-29
Line: Pick 'em
Stats & Trends
This matchup will be key for the Mountaineers. With the Panther offense being very potent the Mountaineers will need to be able to move the ball on a consistent basis to keep Larry Fitzgerald and Rod Rutherford on the sidelines.
This season the Panther defense has been lead by stellar play at the linebacker position. Middle linebacker Lewis Moore is Pitt's leader on defense and their leading tackler. Lewis has racked up 86 stops, 5 tackles for loss, 5 quarterback hurries, 1 interception and 3 fumble recoveries. Joining Moore in the linebacking corps are Brian Bennett and Malcolm Postell. Bennett and Postell have combined for 132 tackles, 8 stops behind the line of scrimmage, 3 sacks and 2 interceptions.
The Panther's defensive front is a veteran group. Although hampered by injuries through much of the season, All Big East first teamer Claude Harriott has been the leader of the defensive line. Harriott has totaled 23 tackles, 2 sacks and 7 tackles for loss. Playing opposing of Harriott is first year starter Thomas Smith. Smith has only 27 stops but combined with Harriott has 25 quarterback hurries. Manning the middle of the line will be Vince Crochunis and Dan Stephens. Stephens, a graduate of Linsly Institute in Wheeling, has been a solid performer for the Panthers during his career. The Linsly graduate has racked up 38 tackles, 4.5 of which came behind the line of scrimmage. Crochunis, a 2002 Verizon Acedemic All-American, has continued his solid play by totaling 39 tackles, 2 sacks and 5 quarterback hurries.
The Panther secondary is lead by a veteran duo of cornerbacks. Shawtae Spencer and Tutu Ferguson are solid in man coverage and have combined for 14 pass break-ups, 3 interceptions and 87 tackles. Teaming with Spencer and Ferguson are a pair of hard-hitting safeties, Tez Morris and Princeton native Tyrone Gilliard. Morris and Gilliard are experienced defensive backs with a good understanding of the Panther defensive scheme. The duo have totalled 100 tackles and 6 pass break-ups.
WVU ranks 72th in total offense (362.89 yds/game), 16th in rushing offense (210.67 yds/game) and 108th in passing offense (152.22 yds/game).
Pittsburgh ranks 66th in total defense (380.67 yds/game), 77th in rushing defense (170.0 yds/game) and 35th in passing efficiency defense (113.30 rating).
WVU defense vs. Panther offense
Pitt brings one of the top offensive weapons in the nation to Mountaineer field on Saturday. That weapon is named Larry Fitzgerald and he has a solid chance at winning the Heisman trophy...as a sophomore. Fitzgerald leads the nation in receiving yards per game (142.4) and has scored a touchdown reception in 15 consecutive games, a new NCAA record.
Joining the Heisman trophy candidate in the receiving group are Princell Brockenbrough and tight end Kris Wilson. Brockenbrough is third on the team in receptions, behind Fitzgerald and Wilson, with 24 catches for 446 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wilson has proven to be one of the best tight ends in the Big East. He has pulled in 32 passes for 457 yards and 6 touchdowns. Look for Wilson to get some passes on Saturday considering BC's Sean Ryan had success against the Blue and Gold defense.
Calling the signals for Pittsburgh will be quarterback Rod Rutherford. Rutherford has been a smashing success this season, racking up 27 touchdown passes through nine games. The senior has connected on 177-288 passes for 2661 yards for an efficiency rating of 165.48, good for 5th best in the country. Teaming with Rutherford in the backfield will be Brandon Miree who is questionable with a stress fracture. Miree has seen action in only 3 games but averaged 82.7 yards per game. If Miree is unable to play Jawan Walker and Lousaka Polite will get the bulk of the touches. Walker and Polite has combined for 4 touchdowns and 478 yards. Look for Polite to get the ball in short yardage and goal line situations.
By the numbers:
WVU ranks 53rd in total defense (365.56 yds/game), 44th in rushing defense (135.44 yds/game) and 31st in passing efficiency defense (111.13).
Pittsburgh ranks 27th in total offense (424.33 yds/game), 90th in rushing offense (121.22 yds/game) and 9th in passing (303.11 yds/game).
WVU special teams vs. Panthers special teams
The Panther special teams have been solid but not spectacular this season. Senior punter, Andy Lee, ranks 11th in the nation by averaging 44.8 yards per attempt. He has yet to have a punt blocked as has landed 18 of his 55 punts inside the 20 yard line. On the flip side, sophomore kicker David Abdul, has struggled with his accuracy, connecting on only eight of his 16 tries. His longest field goal is 47 yards, which came in the first game of the season. Since then he is 2-8 beyond 40 yards.
Returning punts for the Panthers will be William "Tutu" Ferguson. Tutu has gained 234 yards on 24 returns, averaging a solid 9.8 yards. Tutu has excellent speed and has the experience required to take one the distance. Ferguson can also been seen returning kickoffs, averaging 13.5 yards on 6 returns but Pittsburgh's main kick returner has been Terrell Allen. The talented freshman has seen 17 kickoffs come his way and has returned them for 326 yards, an average of 19.2 yards.
If WVU's punter, Todd James, can match Pitt's Andy Lee punt for punt then the edge of special teams goes to the Mountaineers.
By the numbers:
WVU ranks 67th in net punting (35.41 yds/punt), 15th in kick returns (24.30 yds/return) and 87th in punt returns (7.9 yds/return).
Pittsburgh ranks 16th in net punting (39.25 yds/punt), 112th in kick returns (17.00 yds/return) and 62nd in punt returns (9.27 yds/return)
Advantage: Slight edge to WVU
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On Offense: WVU running backs
On Defense: Grant Wiley
* The Panthers won 9 games in the 2002 season, something Pitt hadn't done since the 1982 season under Coach Foge Fazio.
* Pitt is a surprising 151-114-8 versus Big East teams.
* 42% of Pitt's roster is made up of players from the Keystone State.
* In 1968 Pitt was 1-9 with the margin of victory being - 29.4, in 1904 Pitt was 10-0 with the margin of victory being +40.1.
* The Panthers have two players with Mountain State ties on the roster, Tyrone Gilliard from Princeton and Dan Stephens, who attended Linsly in Wheeling.
Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more matchup information!
Both teams are riding four game winning streaks which included a victory over Virginia Tech. Both teams are vying for the Big East championship and both teams have a chance at a major bowl game. Unfortunately for the Panthers, both teams cannot win this game. The Mountaineers will use the 7:00 pm starting time and a hyped up crowd to win this years edition of the Backyard Brawl.
WVU - 27 Pitt - 24 (In one overtime)