Pitt and Penn State will play one another for the 100th time on Saturday, and it’s the last meeting that’s scheduled between the teams for the foreseeable future.
Monday, Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi said that his 2019 Panthers might be “the last team to play in this game.”
But Penn State head coach James Franklin spoke with the media Tuesday and thinks that there may be another option for this game to be continued in the future.
Franklin thinks that maybe moving the match-up to a neutral site would make the agreement an “even exchange … in terms of making sense for both universities.” He’s not quite sure where or how the neutral site idea would work, but he’s optimistic about this historical matchup is headed down the road.
In the near future, Penn State schedule is completely full until 2024 and they wouldn’t have room for a true road game until 2028. Pitt has one game open in 2021 and 2023. They also have two open in 2024 and 2025. After that, they have three dates open from 2026-2028.
While he’s acknowledging that he’d like for it to continue, Franklin still isn’t buying into that fact that Pitt is a rival to his football program. Just like previous years, he stressed that this game is no different than any other game on their schedule. His team won’t get any more pumped for this game than they did for Idaho or Buffalo.
“We don’t approach these games [with Pitt] any different,” Franklin said. “We understand that this game is big to the media, fans, to the letterman, and college football.
Even though Franklin refuses to call Pitt a rival of Penn State, he isn’t completely blind to the importance of the meeting as a whole.
“We aren’t burying our heads in the sand,” he said. “Obviously for this game, we are excited about the opportunity, excited about it from a historical perspective and what this game has meant to this state and college football … We get it.”
The first three games of the series between these two schools have had great atmospheres and have lived up to the significance of the rivalry. Franklin wants his fans to rise to the occasion and give them any type of boost that they can.
“We are excited to play Pitt on Saturday in our stadium,” he said. “Obviously, we need our fans to create a really really challenging environment … We have an opportunity to have a very distinct home field advantage.”
As always, Franklin wasn’t shy about rolling off Penn State’s attendance numbers for the first two games of the season.
“We’ve averaged 104,000 the first two games,” he said. “We need that thing to busting at the seams. We have had as high as 110,000… I want the state to feel that 110,000.”