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Backyard Brawl rescheduled, will now open 2022 season

Pittsburgh v West Virginia Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Pitt and West Virginia were already scheduled to renew their rivalry in 2022, as the Backyard Brawl was scheduled to resume at Heinz Field on Sept. 17 of that year. But the highly anticipated matchup has been moved to Sept. 3 and will kick off the season for both Pitt and West Virginia, according to an announcement from Pitt on Tuesday afternoon.

The move is something of a shakeup for Pitt, as the Panthers have eased into their seasons recently, reserving that spot on the schedule for lighter competition, like Youngstown State, Villanova and Delaware. For West Virginia, it will be less of a transition if it continues to schedule opponents as it has lately, as it kicked off last season by facing Virginia Tech.

With the move, the two programs appear to be following the lead of perennial powerhouses like Alabama, Florida State and USC, which have been abstaining from Week 1 money games in recent years to instead open the season with exciting matchups with significant implications to take full advantage of the higher-profile slot on the schedule.

The two rivals haven’t met on the gridiron since Nov. 25, 2011, when the Mountaineers edged the Panthers 21-20. After that, conference realignment complicated scheduling, as West Virginia left the Big East to join the Big 12 in 2012 and Pitt joined the ACC in 2013. But the Backyard Brawl is set to be played again for four years, starting with Pitt’s 2022 home opener.