Backyard Brawl got a little more heated after last year's contest
Like any good rivalry, the "Backyard Brawl" is based on proximity and history.
"Kissing cousins" is how Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart describes the two programs.
"When you cross that border, it's time to get after it," Stewart said. "It's all the great things in football. I can't imagine a more exciting game being played any day."
Although it's true that Pittsburgh has long considered Penn State its top rival, those two schools stopped playing in 2000. Meanwhile, the Panthers and Mountaineers joined the Big East in the early 1990s, adding new importance to their series. In a league without a lot of tradition, West Virginia-Pittsburgh is easily the Big East's most-heated rivalry.
Pitt holds the all-time series lead at 60-37-3, thanks in large part to a dominating 23-2 stretch from 1924 to 1951. West Virginia had owned a big edge in recent years -- until last season.
In the 100th edition of the series, Pittsburgh scored a 13-9 upset in Morgantown to knock the Mountaineers out of the BCS title game. What had been mostly a regional rivalry gained national significance that day, which ensured that the "Backyard Brawl" would remain a heated battle.
"That spiced up the rivalry a little bit more," Pitt senior linebacker Scott McKillop said. "It added some more lighter fluid to the fire. Any time you play a team for 100 years, it's pretty special."
Brian Bennett is ESPN.com's Big East football blogger.
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Rivalry Week: A Closer Look
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• Bennett: Backyard Brawl heats up Big East
• ACC: Plenty on the line in Commonwealth Cup
• Big 12: Bedlam Series has BCS implications
• SEC: Bama looks to stop recent skid vs. Auburn
• Blue state or red state? UNC-NCSU divided
• The "Big Game" isn't just any game
• Holy War: BYU-Utah spice things up
• SEC: Tennessee has dominated Vandy
• Big Ten: All about the trophy hunting
• Washington: Apple Cup always matters
• Big Ten: OSU-Michigan still The Game
• SportsNation: Do you know your rivalries?
• Vote: Who will be the rivalry week winners?