Penn State–Pittsburgh football rivalry
November 6, 1893|
Penn State 32, Pittsburgh 0
September 9, 2017|
Penn State 33, Pittsburgh 14
|Next meeting||September 8, 2018|
|Trophy||Spalding Trophy (former)|
|All-time series||Penn State leads, 51–43–4|
|Longest win streak||Pittsburgh, 14 (1922–38)|
|Current win streak||Penn State, 1|
The Penn State–Pittsburgh football rivalry is a long-standing American college football rivalry between the Penn State Nittany Lions and Pittsburgh Panthers. As of the end of the 2017 season, the teams have played 98 times. Penn State has not played more games against any other opponent, whereas Pitt has only played more against West Virginia University. The series resumed after 16 years of dormancy in 2016, at which point it was branded "The Keystone Classic" (a reference to Pennsylvania's official nickname, The Keystone State) with Peoples Natural Gas as its corporate sponsor. Since the renewal, the teams have both gone 1-1. Pittsburgh has won two of the last three games, while Penn State has won eight of the last ten. The game scheduled for 2019 in State College will mark their 100th matchup.
Once considered one of the most important college football rivalries north of the Mason–Dixon line, this intrastate rivalry was deemed the biggest annual game for both schools for a large part of their histories. The game often had regional and national implications with the winner often claiming Eastern college football supremacy and its respective Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy. The rivalry began a slow death in the 1990s when both schools left the ranks of college football independents and chose to join different conferences. Penn State accepted an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference while Pitt's football program joined the Big East Conference where the majority of the school's athletic programs already participated. The conference affiliations of the two previously independent football programs resulted in fewer scheduling opportunities.
The last game prior to the series hiatus was played at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, PA, on September 16, 2000 when Pitt shut out Penn State 12–0. The desire of the Penn State Athletic Department to host an unbalanced number of home games (proposing 2–1 and 3–2 series) at Beaver Stadium was a significant factor in not agreeing to renew the series. The basis for the Penn State Athletic Department request for the unbalanced home games was the fact that of the 96 games played by the two teams at the time, only 23 occurred in Happy Valley.
The rivalry was renewed for the 2016 season. This game was the first of a four-game series from 2016–19, with the teams playing at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2018, while battling at Beaver Stadium in State College in 2017 and 2019. The renewal has been highly successful, showcasing competitive games and setting major attendance records in its first two years.
In late April 2018, Pitt athletic director, Heather Lyke, was reported to have sent a proposal to her Penn State counterpart, Sandy Barbour, regarding a four-game series renewal in 2026. This would come after much discussion between both universities and athletic directors. As the Nittany Lions have yet to fill their non-conference Power Five slot for that season, this would be the first opportunity for the two to play again. However, a couple weeks later in May, Barbour stated that she had yet to sign the proposal, calling non-conference scheduling a “complicated puzzle.” She went on to say that both she and Lyke had agreed that the universities were unlikely to do something presently and that they were looking at post-2030 for a series renewal.
Penn State won 12 of the first 15, but Pitt dominated afterwards, going 21–2–2 (1913–40). Pitt at one point won 14 straight times (1922–38). Pitt coach Jock Sutherland never lost to Penn State (1924–38). From 1941 to 1951, the rivalry was much more even, as Pitt went 6–5 against Penn State in that span. From 1952 on, Penn State has dominated, going 31–13–2. Former Penn State coach Joe Paterno went 23–7–1 against Pitt (1966–92, 1997–2000).
Several games are of historic note:
The first game was played on November 6, 1893, in State College, PA, with Penn State prevailing 32–0. Penn State won the first six meetings. This was also the first game to be played in Old Beaver Field.
Pitt's first victory in the series occurred on November 24, 1904 in Pittsburgh, 22–5.
The 1963 game was originally scheduled for Saturday, November 23, but was postponed to December 7 following the assassination of John F. Kennedy the day before. The once-beaten Panthers were being touted as a possible Cotton Bowl participant, but the bowl representatives expressed desire to invite Pitt only if they had one loss. With the game postponed until December 7, the Cotton Bowl could not wait. Pitt beat Penn State 22–21, finishing the season 9–1, with no bowl.
The 1976 game pitted undefeated Pitt, ranked number one in the nation, against Penn State at Three Rivers Stadium on the night after Thanksgiving, November 26. The score was tied 7–7 at the half. Pitt's coach Johnny Majors moved Raul Sanchez to fullback for the second half, and the Panthers went on to win 24–7, finishing the regular season 11–0, on their way to a Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia and their first National Championship in 39 years.
The 1981 game was one for the ages. Pitt was once again undefeated at 10–0 and number one in the nation, ready to claim the title, "Beast of the East". The Nittany Lions had other ideas when they came to Pitt Stadium on November 28. The game featured two junior quarterbacks, Dan Marino for Pitt and Todd Blackledge for Penn State. Pitt went up 14–0 in the first quarter; Penn State tied it at 14 at the half. The second half belonged to Penn State, scoring 34 second-half points while holding the Panthers scoreless. The 48–14 final cost Pitt a chance for its second national title in five years.
The 1982 game again featured two of the nation's best teams. Pitt had been ranked preseason #1, but had lost to Notre Dame to enter the game at 9–1. Penn State also entered the game 9–1, having lost only to Alabama. Again, it would be Marino vs. Blackledge in their last regular season game at a windswept Beaver Stadium. Penn State prevailed 19–10 on the strength of one Blackledge touchdown pass to Kenny Jackson, four field goals and a tenacious defense, and was on its way to a Sugar Bowl upset of Georgia, earning its first National Championship.
In 2016, Pitt went up 28–7 during the second quarter. Penn State rallied back during the second half, but was still down 42–39 late in the fourth quarter. In the final minutes, the Nittany Lions drove the ball almost within field goal range before going for a deep pass in the end zone. Quarterback Trace McSorley's pass was intercepted, effectively ending the game. The loss was cited as a key reason the Nittany Lions failed to make the College Football Playoff. This game became the largest attended sporting event in the history of the city of Pittsburgh.
The most recent game in the series occurred in 2017 with Penn State winning by a score of 33–14. After going up early off the back of an opening-drive interception, the Nittany Lions never surrendered the lead. The recorded attendance was 109,898, the eighth largest (seventh largest at that time) ever at Beaver Stadium and the largest since 2009. This was also the largest crowd to ever attend a game in the series.
The game scheduled for 2018 in Pittsburgh had long been rumored to be a nationally-televised, prime time, night game. This was further supported when the Pittsburgh Pirates of the MLB changed the start time of their game at PNC Park on September 8 from 7:05p to 1:05p. On May 16, Pitt and Penn State announced that the game would officially be played at night. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported the start time to be 8p and that the game would be broadcast on ABC. This will be the first night game in the series since 1987.
|Penn State victories||Pittsburgh victories||Tie games|
The Pitt and Penn State Men's basketball teams have met on the hardwood 148 times, second in most games played to only West Virginia for Penn State and third to Syracuse and West Virginia for Pittsburgh. Penn State leads the all-time series, 76–72. They played at least once every year from 1935–82 and briefly rekindled the rivalry at the turn of the century, playing annually from 2000–05. Since that time, they’ve gone against each other just twice, in 2013 as part of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, and in the 2016 Never Forget Tribute Classic.
The most recent meeting came on November 20, 2017 in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center , where the Nittany Lions dominated the Panthers 85-54. They are not scheduled to renew the series in the foreseeable future, though there have been significant talks between the universities about renewing the once heated rivalry.
- Panaccio, Tim (1982). Beast of the East: Penn State vs. Pitt: a game-by-game history of America's greatest football rivalry. West Point, NY: Leisure Press. ISBN 0-88011-068-6.
- Fittipaldo, Ray (2011-06-14). "Pitt, Penn State to renew football rivalry in 2016". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, PA. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
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- "Penn State and Pitt to Renew Football Rivalry From 2016–19". Penn State Official Athletic Site. December 7, 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-07.
- "Penn State-Pitt series' future 'a complicated puzzle' that may not be solved before 2030". Land of 10. May 8, 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- "Why Penn State is in the Rose Bowl and not the Playoff, despite winning the Big Ten". Vox Media, SB Nation. January 2, 2017. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
- "Pitt-Penn State Game Draws Record Crowds". CBS Pittsburgh. September 10, 2016. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
- "109,898 IN ATTENDANCE FOR PITT-PENN STATE RANKS SEVENTH ALL-TIME IN BEAVER STADIUM HISTORY". Basement Media Works, Roar Lions Roar. September 9, 2017. Retrieved September 10, 2017.
- "Penn State football will play night game at Pitt in 2018, according to Pittsburgh Pirates". Land of 10. April 13, 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- "Pitt-Penn State football game gets prime-time kickoff". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. May 16, 2018. Retrieved 2018-05-22.
- "Pitt Panthers Head-to-Head Results | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
- "Penn State Nittany Lions Head-to-Head Results | College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2017-02-21.
- "Renewal of Pitt-Penn State basketball rivalry in the works". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-02-21.