MORGANTOWN - There are plenty of things at stake tonight when West Virginia and Pitt meet for the 104th time in the Backyard Brawl.
Not the least of those is positioning in the race for the Big East championship and a potential BCS bowl berth.
Both the Mountaineers (7-3, 3-2 Big East) and the Panthers (5-5, 3-2) need a win to have any realistic chance, but even a win won't guarantee much. Both teams still have a game to play and there are three other two-loss teams in league play.
From West Virginia's standpoint, the best things that can happen today are a win over Pitt tonight (7 p.m. kickoff, ESPN), following a loss by Louisville earlier in the day (11 a.m., ESPN2) at South Florida. That would clear the way for the Mountaineers to play South Florida next Thursday in Tampa with a BCS bowl berth on the line.
Pitt's path is a bit more complicated. The Panthers would lose tiebreakers to both Rutgers and Cincinnati, so in addition to winning out (Pitt closes the season a week from Saturday at home against Syracuse) they may need a little more help.
But while the immediate concerns surrounding tonight's Backyard Brawl are practical, there is another issue hanging over the game. Quite simply, it could be the last one for a while.
Both schools are heading to new conferences - WVU to the Big 12 and Pitt to the ACC. West Virginia's move could happen as soon as next season, depending upon two lawsuits involving the school and the Big East. Pitt isn't expected to make its move to the ACC for at least a year or two.
But if West Virginia gets out of the Big East right away, there may not be a way to work out a non-conference game between the two, at least not right away given existing contracts. That's something that doesn't sit well with almost everyone.