While the Backyard Brawl may sound like a professional wrestling pay per view event it is in actuality the name given to the annual football game held every season between the West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers and the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) Panthers. The historic rivalry between these two nearby college football programs has its roots in the first meeting that occurred all the way back on October 26, 1895. The inaugural game was played in Wheeling, West Virginia, a neutral site, and the final score on that day left the West Virginia Mountaineers victorious over the Pittsburgh Panthers by a score of 8-0 in what would prove to be the first of over a hundred meetings between these two college football programs.
The phrase Backyard Brawl is a hyperbole derived from the close physical proximity that the two campuses are from each other. The University of Pittsburgh is not surprisingly located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and West Virginia University is based in Morgantown, West Virginia. The two schools are separated by about 75 miles. The relatively short distance between the two Big East Conference schools makes the roughly one and a half hour drive along Interstate 79 from one college to the other a breeze for students and alumni making the trek for away football games.
The popularity of name Backyard Brawl has become so great in the area that it has more recently extended from the grid iron onto the hardwood as the basketball programs have adopted the moniker for their biannual Big East Conference meetings. After 102 football games between one another and 180 basketball games it is fair to say that the two schools are intimately familiar with one another. The regional rivalry that began simply as a football centric issue has evolved to concern every aspect that the two respected institutions of higher learning can compete in.
With specific regards to football the University of Pittsburgh leads the overall series by a fairly sizable margin. Through 2009 the count is 68 head to head wins for Pitt and a mere 38 victories for WVU (there have also been 3 ties along the way in 1909, 1985, and 1989). Even though the University of Pittsburgh enjoys its current series lead in part because of a dominant stretch of 15 consecutive victories from 1929 to 1946 the competition has been very even over the last decade. In fact, over the last ten years the series is split with five wins for each of the stories programs.