This coming Saturday, the Pitt Panthers will get to play the Penn State Nittany Lions on the football field for the first time since September 16, 2000. Everyone should remember that game, John Turman connected with Rod Rutherford for a 62 yard touchdown pass to give Pitt a 12-0 win.
This will be the 97th meeting between the two schools with Penn State holding a series lead of 50-42-4. Penn State won 12 of the first 15 games of the series. Then from 1913-1940, Pitt then went 21-2-2, including 14 straight from 1922-1938.
So how did former head coach Joe Paterno do in this series? Well, Paterno coached in this series from 1966-2000 and went 23-7-1. This will be the first time that both Pat Narduzzi and James Franklin will be a part of this historic series, which is scheduled to run through 2019.
The 96 previous games in this series have produced many memorable moments. It’s impossible to accurately rank the best games between these two schools, but here are some of the most noteworthy matchups.
1893: The first game in this series. It was played on a Monday because the game on Saturday was postponed by a rainstorm. Penn State won 32-0.
1924: This was the start of the Jock Sutherland Era. Sutherland went 12-0 vs. Penn State and his teams never allowed more than 12 points in a game.
1976: Tony Dorsett carried the ball 38 times for 224 yards and 2 TD’s leading Pitt to a 24-7 win at Three Rivers Stadium. That was Pitt’s first win over a Joe Paterno coached Penn State team. Pitt went on to win the National Championship.
1981: Pitt came into this game ranked #1 while Penn State entered ranked #11. This game was memorable because prior to the game, Paterno said (referring to Pitt), “I would rather have a tough schedule and lose a couple games than have a patsy schedule and be rated #1.” Penn State won the game 48-14.
1982: Pitt entered the year as the preseason #1 team but lost to Notre Dame and entered the game with a 9-1 record. Penn State also entered the game with a 9-1 record with a loss to Alabama. The Nittany Lions won this game 19-0 and went on to beat Georgia for the National Championship.
1987: Pitt entered this game unranked while Penn State was #15. Pitt held a 3-0 lead with :30 seconds left and Penn State driving. That’s when Billy Owens intercepted Matt Knizner and returned it 69 yards for the touchdown and Pitt won 10-0. That was Pitt’s first shoutout of Penn State since 1955.