PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Thursday's "Backyard Brawl" means a lot to Pittsburgh and West Virginia. With a little help from Syracuse, it could mean a whole lot more.
Whoever wins the matchup between the Panthers and the 21st-ranked Mountaineers will have the inside track to the Big East Conference title should Boston College falter against Syracuse on Saturday.
West Virginia (8-2, 4-1 Big East) is tied atop the conference standings with Boston College but lost to the Eagles in its last game, 36-17 on November 13. Pittsburgh (6-3, 3-2) beat Boston College on October 16, 20-17 in overtime.
If Syracuse were to beat B.C. and West Virginia were to defeat Pitt, the Mountaineers would win the conference by being the only 5-1 squad in league play.
But if the Orange were to beat the Eagles and the Panthers were to defeat the Mountaineers, all four teams would be tied at 4-2 in Big East play. The tiebreaker would go to who had the best record in games among the teams, and Pitt and Syracuse would be tied for the best mark at 2-1. The next tiebreaker is superior BCS ranking, and Pitt's would be higher than Syracuse's, giving the Panthers the conference's BCS bowl berth.
Rasheed Marshall completed 21-of-35 for 224 yards and rushed 20 times for 100 yards against Boston College. This season, he has set a career high with 686 rushing yards.
If Marshall and West Virginia are to have any success against the Panthers, they will have to do it without Chris Henry. West Virginia's leading receiver with 811 yards and a school-record 12 touchdowns, Henry has been suspended for the game against the Panthers for a violation of team rules.
The Panthers also have been off since November 13, when they posted a 41-38 comeback victory at Notre Dame.
Josh Cummings kicked a 32-yard field goal with one second remaining to lift Pittsburgh to the upset.
Tyler Palko sparked the Panthers with 334 passing yards and five touchdowns - the most thrown against the Fighting Irish in their storied history.
Pitt leads its series with West Virginia, 58-35-3, but the Mountaineers have won the last two meetings. The visiting team has won 11 of the last 17.