Bits & Bytes: West Virginia - Pitt

It's almost here - the last step to reaching a goal that looked possible, then improbable, then tantalizingly close. Settle in with these final bits of information to keep you going until the 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl kicks off. Game Scorecard
Series: Pitt 37-59-3
Sat 12/1/07 7:45 PM
Morgantown, WV

Milan Puskar Stadium
Record: 10-1
BCS: 2nd
Last Game
UConn W 66-21

Click for Morgantown, West Virginia Forecast
Record: 4-7
BCS : 76th
Last Game
USF L 48-37
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2007 Schedule
First Meeting: 1895
Last Meeting: 2006
Press Release
Season Stats
2007 Schedule


Pat McAfee's two field goal misses have come on his shortest and longest field goal attempts of the year. He missed a 22-yarder at Maryland, and came up just short on a 56-yard try against Connecticut. Pretty much everything else, however, has been as close to perfect as you can get. He is 11-13 on field goals overall, has missed just one extra point, and has put up even more impressive numbers in the punt game. Despite working in a scheme that values placement over distance, McAfee is averaging 40.8 yards per kick. Even more impressively, he has put 15 of his 38 punts inside the 20-yard line while recording just one touchback. His accuracy on punts has resulted in numerous field position gains for the Mountaineers.


Pitt has never defeated a number one ranked team, although it did manage a 14-14 tie with Army in 1958. The Panthers are 0-12-1 against number ones.


While West Virginia will again likely finish second in the nation in rushing yardage (Navy, which has run the ball 137 more times than the Mountaineers, holds a 520-yard lead), it could wind up the year as the top team in the country in yards per carry. With two games to go, WVU is averaging 6.22 yards per carry, and holds a slim lead over #2 Arkansas, which has tallied 6.19 yards per tote. Navy is third at 5.74 yards per carry.


Pitt has scored in 136 consecutive games, the longest active streak among Big East members. The last time Pitt was shut out was a 45-0 loss at Miami on Sept. 28, 1996.


Sometimes, strength in one defensive department points toward weakness in another, but that isn't the case with the Panthers. Pitt is seventh in the nation in passing defense, giving up just 175 yards per game, and in past seasons that pointed to poor performances against the run. While the Panthers aren't in the top 25 in that category, they have improved greatly there this year, giving up fewer than 133 yards per outing and allowing just 3.3 yards per rush.

Those facts set up one of the early keys of the game – can West Virginia continue the rushing dominance it has displayed over the past two years, or will the Panthers be able to hold the Mountaineers in check, or at least without big plays, on the ground? WVU has outgained the Panthers by 1,170 yards rushing over the past five games – a trend that Pitt will have to reverse to stay in the game.


Between 1930 and 1943, West Virginia scored just 12 points against the Panthers. However, the Mountaineers have gone a long way toward making up for that drought in recent years. Since 1992, West Virginia has scored at least 28 points in all but four of the 16 games, and one of those was a 21-0 WVU defensive beatdown in 1994. In WVU's last 10 wins over Pitt, the Mountaineers have scored 414 points, an average of 41.4 points per game.


How do you know your team had a bad season? When it uses the first two pages of its media guide to highlight one play – and that from a game that it lost by 18 points.

Yes, Darelle Revis' 73-yard punt return for a score against West Virginia was an impressive play. And certainly, it deserves some highlighting. But a two-page spread on the inside front cover, complete with ten photos? The message taken from that might be: Is that the highlight of your season?

Other than that, the guide does have some nice features. Parking maps and directions to the stadium, as well as stadium diagrams and other info on road trips, is easy to find in the up front media section. Pitt also does a good job on promoting its history and traditions, which it has to do in light of its recent struggles on the field, and keeps the pages dedicated to its administration to a minimum. It's just the jarring presentation of one play, even one designated the "play of the year" by one media outlet, that sets a strange tone.

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