By Colin Dunlap | 7 a.m. Friday
12 hours until the 102nd Backyard Brawl ...
This is one that I can't get a gauge on. For the past two weeks I have thought about this game and, for the past two weeks, have been unable to pinpoint precisely what it is as to my feelings. To me, this West Virginia team doesn't have an identity, and I think some of it lends itself to the fact that there really isn -- outside of Reed Williams -- a senior who is a vocal, get-after-you leader on this team. I don't know, it seems (to me at least) as if you need a bunch of guys like that to win games like this. I have done a bunch of radio spots this week and have said the same thing...WVU can win this game, surely it can, but I think a Pitt miscue needs sprinkled in for that to happen.
Place: Mountaineer Field
Time: 7 p.m.
Announcers: Mark Jones - play-by-play, Bob Davie - analyst
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* UPDATE 8:40 a.m.: First off, it is snowing at my house in Pittsburgh. Good. I hope it is snowing in Morgantown later tonight, will make for a better atmosphere.
Secondly, I received some feedback already this morning about the story on WVU coach Bill Stewart not getting his signature win yet. It ran in the paper this morning an you can read it HERE
I got am email from a guy named Joel about the article that said, in part, "You mentioned that Stewart does not have a signature win under his tenure. Would the Fiesta Bowl win not count as signature?"
Just to clarify, there is a passage in the story that, I hope, goes to square all of that away. It is as follows: "Since the interim tag was taken off West Virginia coach Bill Stewart after he directed the Mountaineers to a win in the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 2, 2008 against Oklahoma, Stewart has yet to get that signature win. Even as Stewart -- in games after that Fiesta Bowl -- has compiled a 16-7 record that includes the win against Auburn last season, the Meineke Car Care Bowl victory against North Carolina to end last season and the emotional win this season against Connecticut (playing its first game after the stabbing death of cornerback Jasper Howard) something has been missing."
Oh, and by the way, here's the snow in my Hampton Twp. backyard. I should be leaving here around 11am or noon-ish.
1:53 p.m.: Made it down here to Morgantown. Not real snowy, not as snowy as Pittsburgh, but there are a few flakes flying around. It is very much football weather. For a variety of reasons -- cold, students not here, game is a lot later tonight -- there are not as many RVs in the parking lot as normal right now, but I suspect the parking lot will fill up.
2:24 p.m.: The band is out there gritting it out through the cold. Took this photo for Pride Mom:
2:30 p.m.: Got this e-mail from a Pitt fan, who demanded I post it on this blog. I don't know how you WVU faithful feel about this, but I told everyone that if you sent me photos, I would post them. Well ....
3 p.m.: Not Backyard Brawl related, but Tiger Woods was apparently involved in a car accident in Florida: CLICK HERE
3:31 p.m.: Some snow starting to fall now, blowing around and limiting visibility a bit. Again, there won't be anything that will lay on the ground, but it should make for a wonderful atmosphere down here.
3:34 p.m.: By the way, if you are near a radio, and get KDKA 1020 AM out of Pittsburgh, tune in at about 4:05 p.m. You can hear some idiot (me) talk about tonight's game for a few minutes.
3:41 p.m.: Got this Q&A submission from Andrew in Austin, Texas and wanted to answer it.
QUESTION: Hey Colin, as a life long Mountaineer fan, the Backyard Brawl obviously seems to me to be one of the fiercest rivalries in all of college football. Where would you rank the Brawl in comparison to other high-profile college football rivalries?
DUNLAP: I would go with Ohio State-Michigan, Army-Navy, Alabama-Auburn, Oklahoma-Texas and Notre Dame-Southern California before this one, and then, the Backyard Brawl is right there. This game is in the top six or seven of all the rivalries in college football, no doubt.
3:55 p.m.: After that little radio hit I am doing, I'm going to head out into the parking lot and stop by a tailgate or two...I'll return a little later with some photos.
5:09 p.m: Back from the parking lot, definitely cold. Not so much that the temperature is bad, but the wind will not relent. Buckle it up if you are coming to the stadium.
5:22 p.m.: Something I should have posted earlier in the season, probably. There is a bank of TVs in the press box at Mountaineer Field that, right now, have a UConn basketball on, the WPIAL championships and the Iron Bowl. There are a lot of press boxes in college football stadiums in this country, but these are some of the best, generally, as they provide variety:
5:53 p.m.: Two things: 1.) everyone is gathered around watching the end of the Iron Bowl. 2.) WVU is wearing blue tops and blue pants, but you probably already knew that was going to happen. Also, Pitt is wearing white on white -- and both teams look very sharp.
6:34 p.m.: As if you didn't know this was going to happen -- the 10-yard, midfield pace between the two teams during pregame warmups was violated a little by both sides. The officials stepped in and calmed things down.
6:51 p.m.: Got an e-mail from a loyal fan KeyserCouchburner, who sends this photo and says, "The cheering squad is ready."
7:02 p.m.: A very nice scene, as they just announced the 23 seniors. Especially nice was Bill Stewart hugging each and every one of them. The crowd roared for Reed Williams and Jarrett Brown, especially. Also, kickoff is here -- 34 degrees.
Here we go .....
7:36 p.m.: 0-0 end of 1. The way the WVU offense played in its first two drives, 0-0 looks good right now.
7:42 p.m.: Wow...WVU goes for it on 4th down at the 1 and calls a pass w/ three fullbacks in the game?!?!?! Yikes.
8:51 p.m.: If WVU loses this game by three...or can't kick a field goal at the end of this game and have to play for a touchdown, I wouldn't want to be Bill Stewart answering questions.
8:57 p.m.: Oh my. Did Wes Lyons really just do that?