Neal Brown knows what winning the 2023 Backyard Brawl could mean for the WVU program. But he also knows his team will need all the help it can get.
Brown talked about what he expects the atmosphere to be like earlier in the week. The 106th edition of the Backyard Brawl against Pitt will be West Virginia’s first true night game with a kickoff time after 7 pm ET on a Saturday night since 2016.
“I hope it’s electric,” said Brown with a sense of excitement. “This is one that’s been circled for a long time. It’s been sold out for a long time. A lot of people coming into town for this. It’s a great opportunity,” he added.
Brown then went into further detail about the importance of this rivalry. He’s been on the record saying that Pitt is the one non Big 12 opponent from another major conference that the Mountaineers should play every year.
“This is the biggest rivalry that we have in our program here. We understand that both from in our building here and from a fanbase standpoint. Really a unique atmosphere. You could feel it. I think rivalries make college football. A lot of the rivalries have gone to the wayside which is disappointing. I’ve said this, I’m in favor of playing this game. This makes a lot of sense to be our non-conference Power Five opponent each and every year. I think it’s a game our fans and their fans like to see. This is heated. We understand that and our guys are excited to get back into that.”
Brown’s counterpart at Pitt Pat Narduzzi also endorses everything the Backyard Brawl is about. “I like coaching, period. I like playing wherever we get to play. I like going to different places. I think that’s all part of the pageantry of college football. I think everybody embraces that,” Narduzzi said. “We’ll learn more going down there. I think the kids will really learn the rivalries on the road and how hostile it is. Rivalries are rivalries. It’s nothing more than any other game for me. We know we’re just down the road. But it’s a football game that means a lot to a lot of people. Our Pitt fans are passionate. West Virginia fans are passionate. People want to see you play well in those games.”
It’s nice for the fans the leaders of both programs are on the same page about the matchup. They both seem to also want to avoid saying anything that could be bulletin board material for the other. But come Saturday night, nothing will matter except what happens on Mountaineer Field. And with both teams sitting at 1-1 with their only win being to an FCS school, it’s fair to say both teams desperately need to leave this Backyard Brawl on top.
The Backyard Brawl kicks off from Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, West Virginia at 7:30 pm ET. And for those who will be missing out on experiencing the rivalry in person, the game will be televised nationally on ABC.