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Tim Curley: Penn State set to renew Pitt rivalry in 2016-17

Submitted by on June 14, 2011No Comment

Sound the alarms, the Penn State – Pitt rivalry is about to be resurrected!

One of the nation’s fiercest football rivalries is set to be renewed, as old instate rivals Penn State and Pittsburgh will meet again on the gridiron in 2016 and 2017. The Nittany Lions will travel to Pittsburgh and face the Panthers for the first time in Heinz Field on September 10th, 2016 and Pitt will return to Beaver Stadium on September 16th, 2017.

Curley had this to say about the renewed rivalry

“We are very excited about renewing our rivalry with Pitt… We have worked our schedules to play some of our neighboring rivalries like Syracuse, Rutgers and Temple and are glad to have identified dates that worked for our schedules to play Pitt. The Penn State-Pitt game was one that football fans across the Commonwealth have been passionate about. There have been many memorable Penn State-Pitt games, featuring outstanding players and coaches, and we look forward to playing the Panthers again. “

One of the oldest rivalries in the nation, Penn State/Pitt first debuted in 1893. The two once-independent powers have faced off 96 times since then – the most of any Nittany Lion opponent – with Penn State holding a 50-42-3 advantage. Joe Paterno personally holds a 23-7-1 record against the Panthers including 7 straight wins between 1989 t0 1999 until a 12-0 loss at Three Rivers Stadium in 2000 in their last meeting.

Once considered one of the marquee rivalries in college football, the Penn State/Pitt rivalry eventually fell by the wayside despite having met on the gridiron for 57 straight seasons once Penn State joined the Big Ten conference. The harsh scheduling realities of being part of the Big Ten soon caught up to Penn State though the two programs did play a 4 game series from 1997 to 2000, with the Nittany Lions winning the first three games.

Prior to 2006, before the NCAA Division I adopted the 12 game schedule, teams like those in the Big Ten were saddled with the inflexibility of 8 conference games (4 home, 4 away) and just 3 non-conference opponents all the while trying to remain financially self-sufficient. If Penn State wanted the ability to play various marquee opponents during the non-conference portion (liked they did with South Florida and Cincinnati in 2005, Boston College in 2004 and ’03, Nebraska in 2002 and 03, etc) they had to give up their longstanding rivalry with their Western neighbors especially if it meant requiring a home and away series. Penn State needs to schedule at least 7 home games each season to generate enough revenue to meet the annual athletic budget.

With just 3 non-conference opportunities (prior to 2006) and 4 today, it became increasingly hard for Penn State to schedule a long term rivalry with the Panthers especially if it came at the expense of playing the likes of Notre Dame, Alabama, Syracuse, Boston College. It’s common for fans to demand Penn State sacrifice their annual series with Temple and MAC programs for the sake of reviving a Pitt rivalry, but unlike Pitt, those teams are willing to agree to a 2-for-1 or even 3-for-1 series.

It is downright exciting to see one of the nation’s marquee instate rivalries resurrected again, even if it’s just for 2 years. Set your clocks, it’s officially 1,915 days and counting.

Some immediate reactions around the twitterverse:

They cpuldnt have renewed it 5 yrs ago! RT @: RT @: Penn State and Pitt to Renew Football Rivalry in 2016 & 2017:
AQ Shipley
One of our fans from Pittsburgh just sent me an email.It read Pitt vs Penn State in 1915 days or around 2,757,600 minutes.... Funny...
Tom Bradley
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