Just 77 days separate the WVU football program from a clash with the rival Pittsburgh Panthers.
Those 77 days will end a 3,933-day gap between gridiron playings of the Backyard Brawl. But who’s counting?
“It’s obvious, we’re very excited as a team,” transfer linebacker Lee Kpogba said earlier this week.
Kpogba will be one of the many players on the Mountaineer roster who will be introduced to the WVU-Pitt rivalry for the first time.
“I just got here, I’m new, and I’m excited,” he said with a big smile. “So, the guys who have been here and know what it’s really about, they’re kind of telling me what it’s about.”
West Virginia has had “Beat Pitt” on monitors throughout the facility since at least March.
Fairmont Senior High School grad Dante Stills is one of 15 players currently listed on the WVU roster who hail from West Virginia.
Stills, the oldest of the 15 Mountain State natives, was in middle school when Pittsburgh last lost to West Virginia on the gridiron.
“It’s a moment that I’ve been waiting for since,” he paused, “I can remember not liking Pitt.”
The revival of the Backyard Brawl has been a topic of conversation for years. For West Virginia natives, like Stills, it’s a topic they often get asked about because they naturally have more of a background of knowledge of the significance of the rivalry.
While Stills acknowledged that simply talking about it is no longer his favorite thing to do, that doesn’t mean he is any less pumped for Sept. 1 to arrive.
“I’m excited for this opportunity. I’m excited for the first game,” said Stills. “Backyard Brawl, let’s go. I’m ready to go.”
Stills’ father, Gary, went 2-1 against Pitt during his playing days (96-98). Both of the wins came in Pittsburgh.
Eleven weeks and one day currently separate the Mountaineers and the regular-season opener.
As the calendar shortly turns to July and eventually flips to August, the conversation about the upcoming Brawl will no doubt become a daily occurrence.
And as the metaphorical countdown to kickoff clock continues to count down the days, hours, and minutes until kickoff at Heinz Field, one thing is certain.
“I’m fired up, and I’m ready,” said Kpogba. “We’ll be ready for sure.”