Thu 11/25 8:00 pm
AP Rank: 21
Last Game: BC
Returning Starters: 16
AP Rank: 28
Last Game: ND
Returning Starters: 10
Last Meeting: 2003
MUST BE SOME SORT OF RECORD
Pitt has managed to forge a 6-3 record despite rushing for an average of just 2.8 yards per carry. Other than pass happy, run up the score teams like the Houston Cougars of the Andre Ware era, has any other team won twice as man games as it has lost while fielding such an anemic rushing attack? Say what you will about Walt Harris, but it's impressive to have coaxed six wins out of a team that has performed so poorly on the ground.
While the two units won't face each other, Thursday night's game may come down to which offense is able to do the most of what it does best – for Pitt, throwing the ball, and for WVU, running it.
TO BALANCE IT OUT
WVU doesn't have a shortage of odd stats either. The Mountaineers' leading tackler is cornerback Adam Jones, who has 65 stops on the season – two more than linebacker Adam Lehnortt. Conventional wisdom holds that a team led in tackles by a defensive back isn't very good at stopping opponents, but that hasn't held true for West Virginia this season. And truth be told, this fact might point more to PacMan's exceptional ability than any shortcomings on the part of the WVU stop troops.
ECHOES IN THE VOID
How much will Chris Henry be missed against the Panthers? Consider that no other Mountaineer receiver has even approached 100 receiving yards in a game this year. Brandon Myles had 57 against Central Florida, and Eddie Jackson 52 against Temple. Those are the only two performances, outside of Henry's, for more than 50 yards this year.
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The visiting team has won 11 of the past 17 games in the series, showing that, in the Backyard Brawl, anything can happen. West Virginia's 2002 road win at the Big Condiment was concluded in fairytale fashion, as giant snowflakes covered the celebrating Mountaineers following their 24-17 win.
DISGUISED AS EMPTY SEATS
Despite a modern pro stadium for its home venue, Pitt is averaging just 39,392 fans in five home dates. That includes a puzzling 40,133 "crowd" for a home contest against Nebraska. Somehow, the Panthers attracted more fans for Rutgers (41,232) than they did for the Cornhuskers.
More cynical minds than mine might suggest some skullduggery with the attendance figures.
The playing of this year's game, the 97th in the series, will make WVU the team Pitt has played the most in its history. The game breaks the old mark of 96 games between Pitt and Penn State.
The 97 games puts WVU-Pitt 30th on the NCAA Division 1A list of most-played rivalries. The Mountaineers and Panthers have played each other every year since 1943.
UNDER THE LIGHTS
WUV is 10-3 in night games under Rich Rodriguez. Does that mean something? Rodriguez' last two teams appeared to like playing in the spotlight in big games. This year's squad has been 0-2 in those contests, although both of them have been played in daylight.