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West Virginia visits Pitt for "Backyard Brawl" on Thursday

Nov 14, 2006 - 10:19 PM No. 8 West Virginia (8-1) at Pittsburgh (6-4) 7:30 pm EST

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- West Virginia's chances of reaching the national championship game all but ended two weeks ago, but the Mountaineers still have a decent shot of going to a Bowl Championship Series game.

The eighth-ranked Mountaineers look to remain in the running for the Big East Conference title when they visit Pittsburgh in their annual "Backyard Brawl" matchup Thursday.

On November 2, then-No. 3 West Virginia came up short at Louisville, 44-34, in a game perceived to be for the Big East title. But the Cardinals blew an 18-point lead at fellow unbeaten Rutgers last week and lost to the Scarlet Knights, 28-25, helping the Mountaineers' cause.

West Virginia (8-1, 3-1 Big East), which hosts Rutgers on December 2, rebounded from its loss to Louisville with a 42-24 win over Cincinnati last week.

Pat White rushed for two touchdowns and passed for another and Steve Slaton ran for 148 yards and two TDs for the Mountaineers, who collected 313 yards on the ground. They rank second in the nation in rushing (318.2 yards per game).

Pitt (6-4, 2-3) is coming off a heartbreaking 46-45 loss at Connecticut in double overtime in which it blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead.

The Panthers took the lead in the second extra period on LaRod Stephens-Howling's one-yard run, but Donald Brown countered with a 10-yard TD run and Huskies quarterback D.J. Hernandez ended matters with a two-point conversion rush.

Tyler Palko completed 20-of-25 passes for 234 yards and three TDs and Stevens-Howling rushed for 154 yards and two scores for Pitt, which has lost three straight games.

The teams have split their last six meetings, with Pitt winning here two years ago, 16-13, and West Virginia posting a 45-13 home triumph last year.

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