One of the best rivalry names in all of college football is the subject of today’s 99 Things. the Backyard Brawl between Pitt and West Virginia is a rivalry based on pure hatred. The rivalry dates back to 1895 when Pitt was named Western University of Pennsylvania. West Virginia won the first game by a score of 8-0. The two schools have played 104 times but have not played since 2011 when West Virginia moved to the Big 12. Pitt leads the all-time series with a record of 64-40-3.
This year’s edition of the Backyard Brawl will be headlined by two transfer quarterbacks. Kedon Slovis transferred to Pitt from USC after throwing for over 6,000 yards in the past three seasons. Slovis is looking to have similar success as Kenny Pickett but will have to do it without their star wideout. Jordan Addison transferred to USC following spring practice leaving Pitt without one of their best players. Jared Wayne will likely be his top target after totaling 658 yards last season. Slovis has average arm strength and struggles to stretch the field at times. He also is not as mobile as Pickett which will result in more sacks.
West Virginia also has a former USC quarterback leading them this season. JT Daniels will be the Mountaineers quarterback after transferring from USC and Georgia. Daniels was the starting quarterback for the Bulldogs last year before going down with an injury. He has struggled with injuries in his career limiting his amount of playing time. Bryce Ford-Wheaton is likely to be his top target. Ford-Wheaton finished second on the team in receptions (42) and yards (575). Daniels has the ability to take the top off the defense and remain accurate when throwing down field. The biggest concern for Daniels is the limited playing time he has received over the past two seasons due to various injuries.
One of the most iconic Backyard Brawl games took place in 2007. West Virginia was led by Rich Rodriguez and was one win away from playing for a National Title. The only game which stood in their way was a home game against Pitt who was 4-7. West Virginia lost by a score of 13-9 which included two missed field goals by kicker Pat McAfee. The loss created a butterfly effect as Rich Rodriguez would leave and become the head coach at Michigan. If the Mountaineers had won, they would have played Ohio State for the National Championship and possibly been the favorite.
The Backyard Brawl is one of the best rivalries in college football and one which should be played yearly. Rivalries intense as the Backyard Brawl give college football an aspect which other sports do not have. The pure hatred between the two fan bases attract viewers from all over the country no matter their allegiance. Luckily we will be seeing the rivalry almost yearly as the series has eight games scheduled over the next 11 years.