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Penn State vs. Pitt Football: Just the (Rivalry) Facts

by on September 06, 2018 8:30 PM

No. 99. And counting.

When Penn State faces Pitt on Saturday night in Heinz Field, it will be the two teams’ 99th meeting. Next year, the series stops at 100.

Then, only two Pennsylvania teams are on the Nittany Lions’ schedule for most of the next decade. The duo:

There’s Villanova, which last played Penn State in 1951 and will visit in Beaver Stadium in 2021.

(Wouldn’t it have been neat if PSU had leveraged this game with a ‘Nova basketball trip to the BJC, for a Pat vs. Jay showdown?)

And then there’s storied and vaunted opponent Temple, which is 4-40-1 (.100) against the Nittany Lions, which will host Penn State in 2026 — guaranteeing a big Owl payday — and play in Beaver Stadium in 2027.

Penn State has faced 156 different opponents over 132 seasons. Penn State has played Pitt twice as many times as any other opponent, but two — Syracuse (71) and West Virginia (59). The Mountaineers are back on the schedule in 2023-24.

The 99 games is just six fewer than what longtime Penn State fans would call the Fab Five of all-time rivals, after Pitt — combined: Alabama (15 times), Nebraska (17), Notre Dame (19), Michigan (21) and Ohio State (33).

Penn State has beaten Pitt 51 times, followed by West Virginia (48), Syracuse (40), Temple (40), Maryland (38), Gettysburg (27) and Rutgers (26).

Penn State has lost to Pitt 43 times, followed by Penn (25), Syracuse (23), Ohio State (19), Navy (17), Michigan State (16), Michigan (13) and Iowa (12).

Penn State and Pitt have tied four times — 0-0 in 1920, 0-0 in 1921, 707 in 1956 and 24-24 in 1983.

Penn State is 3-1 against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club, by a combined 52-11 from 1892-95, with three shutouts. (This is separate from the PSU-Pitt series.)

After Saturday, of the 1,309 football games Pennsylvania State College (1874-1952) and The Pennsylvania State University have played since 1887, 7.6% will have been against Pitt.

First-time Penn State opponents in the next six years: Auburn, Ball State, Delaware, Nevada, San Jose State and Virginia Tech.

Pitt will play a home-and-home with Wisconsin in 2026-27. It is 612.7 miles from Camp Randall Stadium to Heinz Field.

It is 138.9 miles from Beaver Stadium to Heinz Field.

More than 50,000 Penn State alumni live in Allegheny, Beaver, Fayette, Westmoreland counties, with many more in the surrounding counties.

Miles Sanders and Lamont Wade are from Pittsburgh. So are other current Nittany Lions Nick Bowers, Sterling Jenkins, John Petrishen, C.J. Thorpe, coaches Terry Smith and Matt Limegrover, and former star/now recruiting assistant Justin King.

“How many Pitt players do you know?” I asked Miles Sanders last Saturday after the App State game.

“All of them,” Miles replied.

As a youth, James Franklin spent his summers in Pittsburgh, with his buddy “Mighty” — aka Keith Gardner, who was born just six days apart from Franklin in 1972 and who is still a close CJF confidant.

Penn State All-Americans from Pittsburgh and Western PA: LaVar Arrington, Bruce Clark, Randy Crowder, Chuck Fusina, Ted Kwalick, Richie Lucas, Brandon Short, John Skorupan, Paul Posluszny, A.Q, Shipley, Harry “Light Horse” Wilson, Steve Wisniewski and Stefen Wisniewski.

Also from there: Chuck Burkhart, Bradley Bros. Jim, Tom and Matt, Jack Ham, John Hufnagel, Sean Lee, Steve Smear and Leo Wisniewski.

Penn State Pittsburgh Steelers: Jesse James (McKeesport), Marcus Allen (his grandparents are from Pittsburgh), Malik Golden, trainer Jon Norwig, Mike Munchak and Jim and Tom Bradley.

1893: Penn State 32, Pitt 0.

2017: Penn State 33, Pitt 14.

Joe's failed attempt at an Eastern conference.

Jackie Sherrill and Pat Narduzzi.

Shitt on Pitt T-shirts.


Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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