WVU's Dana Holgorsen may not understand the importance of Friday night's 104th meeting between his Mountaineers and arch-rival Pittsburgh holds, but you can bet he will if his team suffers its fourth loss of the season and loses any hope of capturing the Big East championship and an automatic berth in the BCS.
"Each game is important, and if you look at the schedule, each game has presented challenges," explained WVU's 33rd head coach during his weekly press conference. "We have to prepare the guys the best we can for each of the games. There is ample opportunity to know exactly what we are facing. We are looking forward to it."
Making this contest even more important for Mountaineer fans around the country is the fact that it may also be the final meeting between the two schools-located 75 miles apart-for the next several years.
WVU's expected move to the Big 12 on July 1, 2012, as well as Pitt's move to the Atlantic Coast Conference plus a non-conference slate of games for both schools make it difficult to reschedule the contest has many fans from both schools wondering if a 105th meeting will happen in the near future.
So, just like any rivalry, winning an expected final meeting gives the winner's fans bragging rights over the other's fans until another contest can be played. And, these are two fan bases that enjoy giving the other guys the "business" when their favorite team celebrates a victory.
Add to all of this the fact that both schools are fighting to stay in the race for the Big East title and it is easy to understand-from a fan's perspective-why this meeting between the Mountaineers and the Panthers may have more meaning than any over the past couple of seasons.
All one has to do is remember back to a cold, snowy December 2007 night in Morgantown when the entire nation watched as a four-touchdown underdog Pitt squad ruined WVU's chances of playing for a national title when it handed the Mountaineers a 13-9 setback.
A loss that eventually led to head coach Rich Rodriguez leaving for Michigan.
Pitt owns the overall series by a 61-39-3 margin and even holds a 21-17-3 mark in games played in Morgantown. However, WVU fans can rejoice that their beloved old gold and blue has posted a 24-20-2 mark during the last 46 meetings between the two schools and is 13-7 over the last 20 contests.
WVU also enjoys a two-game winning streak, but (don't you love it when I use this word) neither team has won three games in a row since the Mountaineers accomplished that feat from 1992-96.
Fans can expect to see a lot of hard hitting (on the field as well) and a player on one, or both, teams come out of nowhere to play the game of his career. Rivalries have a tendency to produce such results.
Yes, coach, this may be just another game-unless you lose it.
Contact Jim Butta at email@example.com