STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WHTM) – Penn State and Pitt have played against each other 96 times, with the last time being in 2000. A 16-year hiatus will end on Saturday when the two teams play at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
Fans have wanted this series to be revived for years, and the ensuing hype for it, which will be seen on ESPN, has been palpable. James Franklin found a middle ground on the significance of this game at his weekly press conference Tuesday.
“Obviously being in the same state and the past history of the game is really going to put a major emphasis on it.”
But he’s quick to point out one glaring detail that may dictate how important this game is for the current players on the team.
“We have talked about this game with our players, I don’t think we have to talk about it a whole lot because they understand and hear it all the time. You also have to remember that our players were either 2,3 or 4 years old the last time this game was played.”
Their millennial infancy in no way diminishes what was one of college football longest annual match-ups, with those 96 games being played from 1900-2000. But does the fire of that century long rivalry still burn?
“To me a rivalry isn’t something you don’t have to have a discussion about. The players, coaches, fans and media all agree. And again, none of our players have ever played against Pitt and none of our players have seen a Penn state Pitt game.”
That’ll change on Saturday when the Nittany Lions and Panthers play at noon.