MORGANTOWN - In a perfect world, when West Virginia and Pitt meet Friday afternoon in the 103rd Backyard Brawl it would be the players from West Virginia and Pitt who decide the outcome.
Chances are, that's exactly what will happen.
It's hard to ignore the fact, though, that something else might contribute mightily.
The playing surface at Heinz Field is not in good shape. The last two visiting teams that played there - the Patriots and the Raiders against the Steelers - complained enough that before the Steelers play there again on Dec. 12 they will replace the natural grass turf.
But it won't happen before WVU and Pitt play at noon Friday. And while the forecast now calls for dry weather by game time, predicted rain throughout the day today and into early Friday certainly won't help the field conditions.
All in all, that could be considered a disadvantage to West Virginia, which offensively basis much of its attack around small, speedy skill position players who rely on good footing to make cuts.
But the Mountaineers aren't dwelling on the prospect of playing on a sloppy track. Quite the opposite, in fact. They are ignoring it.
"I don't talk about it,'' West Virginia coach Bill Stewart said. "Oakland talked about it. That's what I tell the team.''
Oakland, of course, is the Raiders, who lamented the condition of the playing surface and then were thumped 35-3 by the Steelers.
The theory then, of course, is not to dwell on the playing conditions. Then again, you don't just ignore them, either.
"Oh, I'll look,'' Stewart said of the field conditions prior to the game. "I'm not that big of a knucklehead.''
The playing surface at Heinz Field has been an issue on and off for years. Three years ago, when Jacksonville was preparing for a playoff game there, Jaguars' running back Fred Taylor referred to the field as both ridiculous and "a lawsuit pending.''