Why is Pittsburgh vs West Virginia called the Backyard Brawl?

Pitt vs. West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl. (Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE)
Pitt vs. West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl. (Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE) /

Even though it hasn’t been played in years, Pittsburgh vs. West Virginia is one of college football’s best rivalries. Why is it called the Backyard Brawl?

The Backyard Brawl is back and all of college football is happy about that.

Thursday night’s game between Pitt and West Virginia is the first in the series since 2011, when the Panthers joined the ACC and the Mountaineers joined the Big 12.

The decade-long hiatus has only made the bad blood between the two schools boil hotter. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the game live up to the moniker with a literal brawl or two on Thursday.

Why is Pitt-West Virginia called Backyard Brawl?

Aside from the catchy alliteration of “Backyard Brawl” the rivalry game got that nickname because of the close proximity of the universities.

Morgantown, West Virginia is 70 miles south of Pittsburgh. It takes a quick trip up or down Interstate 79 to get between the two.

As a result, the Mountaineers and Panthers have often competed for the same recruits while fans from both sides are intermingled.

Backyard Brawl records, history

West Virginia has the series lead at 100–88. They won the first meeting in 1895, 8-0, over the Western University of Pennsylvania, which would become Pitt.

The first years of the rivalry didn’t feature regular matchups but by the 1920s a yearly game was consistently played. In 1921, the matchup became the first college football game to be broadcast on radio.

2007 Backyard Brawl

Arguably the most impactful edition of the rivalry came in the 100th meeting.

West Virginia was ranked No. 2 and had a clear path to the BCS National Championship Game. Pitt had a 4-7 by comparison. That’s why it was such a huge upset when the Panthers bested the Mountaineers 13-9, crushing their hopes of competing for a national title.

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