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Pitt-WVU Backyard Brawl to feature Nike Pro Combat uniforms

Pitt and West Virginia will be dressed for combat during the 103rd Backyard Brawl.

When they meet Nov. 26 at Heinz Field, the teams will wear Nike Pro Combat System of Dress, uniforms designed to represent Pitt's ties to the steel industry and pay respect to the deadly explosion at West Virginia's Upper Big Branch mine this past April.

The Big East Conference rivals are among 10 schools whose football teams will wear the Nike Pro Combat uniforms this season, joining Alabama, Boise State, Florida, Miami, Ohio State, Oregon State, Texas Christian and Virginia Tech.

Not only do the Nike Pro Combat uniforms feature bold designs, but they are made with four-way stretch twill fabric that is 37 percent lighter than their regular game-day uniforms.

"I thought it was a great idea when I first heard about it," said Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson, who attended a news conference in New York to unveil the uniforms before boarding a flight for Salt Lake City to see the No. 15 Panthers play Utah tonight. "I like the grouping of teams, specifically when they said they wanted us to wear them for the Backyard Brawl. It brings further hype to a game that's already going to be hyped."

Pitt will wear smoky college navy and black jerseys and pants with metallic team gold numerals "to represent the brilliant glow of a blast furnace," according to a Nike website, and matching helmets with a gold stripe and logo "evocative of steel I-beams" and resembling a hard hat.

"I think it's a great look," Pederson said. "It's a one-time deal. We have uniforms we're happy with and comfortable with, but in a unique situation like this I thought they incorporated a lot of things about the city into the uniform concept.

"It works with our theme, 'My City. My Panthers.' "

West Virginia will wear a shade of white "that looks as if it has a fine layer of dust on the jersey" and has accents in university gold that "references the canaries used long ago to test toxicity in mines." The helmet has a thin yellow line, designed to look like "the beam of light emitted by a miner's headlamp."

"The uniforms are great," WVU men's basketball coach Bob Huggins said. "Wearing those uniforms brightens up the day of the families of those 29 miners that died in the Upper Branch mine tragedy, and I think it is a wonderful gesture."

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