Pitt vs. Penn State

This post isn't to talk about how Pitt and Penn State should somehow renew their rivalry, because it isn't going to happen anytime in the near future. I will however say that it is absolutely ridiculous that these two teams do not play each other anymore, as it could be one of the best rivalries in college football. Being a Pitt grad, and having many friends who went to Penn State, it would be an entire weekend filled with travel, drinking, trash talking, and good football. There is a whole wikipedia page right devoted to the Pitt-Penn State rivalry. From where I hear, the reason that the two teams do not play anymore is because Joe Pa wanted 2 home games for Penn State for every home game for Pittsburgh. While it is true that monetary-wise, a game at Penn State will generate a lot more money than one at Pittsburgh, but it is still unfair. Anywhere this game is played, it would pack the stadium, and be a great game. Pennsylvania is a great state for football, and the fact that the only two teams in the state worth talking about (sorry Temple) do not play is ridiculous.

So on this, the first Saturday of college football, I figured I would remind everyone about the last time that this great rivalry actually did play. The date was September 16, 2000 at Three Rivers Stadium, and Pitt shut out Penn State 12-0. Pitt was led by star wide receiver Antonio Bryant, and running back Kevan Barlow. See the recap below--

PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- For the first time in years, it appears
that Pittsburgh is Pennsylvania's best college football team.
And now the Steel City school has bragging rights for the
foreseeable future.

The Panthers shut out intrastate rival Penn State for the first
time since 1987, frustrating Rashard Casey while holding the
Nittany Lions to just 225 total yards in a 12-0 victory at Three
Rivers Stadium.

Nick Lotz kicked a pair of field goals and John Turman threw a
62-yard third-quarter touchdown pass to Rod Rutherford as the
undefeated Panthers (3-0) broke a seven-game losing streak to
Penn State (1-3).

The Nittany Lions failed to score a point for the first time
since a 27-0 loss at Michigan on November 7, 1998. But that
loss came in the midst of a 9-3, Outback Bowl victory campaign.
This season has already turned into a nightmare.

Penn State has lost three of its first four games for the first
time since 1983 and the Nittany Lions would have to win six of
their final eight contests in order for Joe Paterno to break
Bear Bryant's all-time victory record this season.

Today, the running game was completely shut down, managing only
64 yards on 33 attempts, a 1.9 yards per carry average. Casey
completed only half of his 34 pass attempts for 159 yards with
an interception.

The interception was also very costly. Penn State had moved
deep inside Pittsburgh territory when Tim Stein picked off
Casey, giving the Panthers control on their own 20-yard line.
Two plays later Turman connected with Rutherford.

Pittsburgh totaled 379 total yards but did not need much offense
to claim the victory. After a scoreless first quarter, Lotz's
29-yard field goal capped a 12-play, 62-yard drive, giving the
Panthers the only points they would need with 9 1/2 minutes left
in the second quarter.

Lotz connected again from 39 yards with 8:38 remaining.

Turman completed 11-of-19 passes for 272 yards and Kevan Barlow
accumulated 99 yards on 23 carries for the Panthers, who
improved to 42-50-4 all-time against Penn State.

No further meetings have been scheduled in the series.


Gorilla said...

I too am a Pitt grad and was attending in the late 80s as the series was winding down.

My first game was in 1987. Pitt had a 3-0 lead late in the game against the nationally ranked Lions. PSU was driving with less than a minute to play when Billy Owens picked off a pass and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown to seal a 10-0 win. Head Coach Mike Gottfried sprinted down the sidelines, following Owens into the end zone, for a massive celebration that engulfed a frenzied Pitt Stadium.

Sadly those days are long gone.

My understanding that the 2 for 1 deal that PSU wanted was a direct result of Pitt snubbing Paterno's mission of creating an East Coast based conference in the early 80s

JoePa wanted Penn State, Pitt and Syracuse to be the foundation of an all sports conference, but the idea never gained traction because, at the time, schools focused on basketball.

Pitt left the Eastern 8 basketball conference (which included PSU) to join the 'Cuse in the newly formed Big East Conference, which rejected PSU's application.

The Lions stayed put and its hoops conference eventually became the Atlantic 10, but all the football schools involved were still independents.

From that point on, with the schools moving in different directions, the relationship was strained and the final breaking point came when the Big East added football as a league sport in 1991

Again PSU was left out, as the conference elected to take Miami over the Lions, leaving them in no man's land. Two years later the Lions joined the Big 11

What was once a huge rivalry has been reduced to two in-state schools who have gone their separate ways. The intensity has been on a steady decline for the past 20 years.

Just the other day I was wearing a Pitt shirt across the poker table from a man dressed in PSU garb and nobody said a word.

It's a shame that neither one of us had the inclination of stirring up school spirit...because the rivalry is dead, never to return.

Kotite's Corner said...

That is a good story and a great memory, Gorilla. Unfortnately, I started attending Pitt in 2001 right when the rivalry had ended. I have also heard that story about Joe Pa's intention to start the East Coast Based conference, and was always spiteful of Pitt for not joining.

Either way, it is a shame, as if you grew up anywhere in Pennsylvania basically, you would love to see this game. And so many Pitt fans and Penn State fans are friends, it would just be a great time and a great rivalry, and great trash talking.

Gorilla said...

Yeah the friends and family that used to talk trash don't bother anymore.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

check out pokergorilla.blogspot.com
for my college football post which will be up soon.

T-Bone said...

As a native Pennsylvanian and life-long resident with no personal allegiance to either school, I'd love to see the Pitt-PSU rivalry rekindled, though I'm sure it won't happen. I've always regarded PSU as kind of the Notre Dame of the East --- smug, self-righteous, and unduly full of itself. In other words, a direct reflection of JoePa, the Cryptmaster of Happy Valley. I'd like nothing more than to see the Panthers once again kick the withered asses of Paterno and his band of overhyped "student (yeah, right!)-athletes."

Kotite's Corner said...

Will definitely check your site out Gorilla, thanks for checking out ours.

Even though we are in college football season now, it is a shame for Penn State that they only have 1 major sport to root for, while Pitt features a solid football, and elite basketball team. We actually stopped playing Penn State in basketball every year a few years ago because it was like playing a Division 2 team for us.

Gorilla said...

Thanks for checking it out...and tell Camlin to post more stuff!

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