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Relive Four Of The Biggest Moments So Far Of The Renewed Pitt-Penn State Series

by on September 09, 2019 2:30 PM

Penn State and Pitt meet this weekend for the 100th all-time meeting between the two programs and the fourth and final game in the renewed series. 

With no additional games on the schedule over the next few years, only time will tell when Penn State and Pitt will take the field again. The Nittany Lions currently hold a 2-1 advantage in the current series after back-to-back blowout victories both at Beaver Stadium and Heinz Field.

Can Pitt pull out one last win? The Panthers won the final game of the previous series in 1988 and won the opener of this four-game stretch, so Pitt certainly knows how to play the spoiler.

With one more game to go, here is a look back at four of the biggest moments so far.


James Conner's Return:

Conner's well publicized battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma came to a victorious end prior to the 2016 season and he wasted little time getting back into the action. Conner had a fairly calm season opening game against Villanova but rushed for 117-yards and a touchdown against Penn State, adding a receiving touchdown to his total as well.

Conner's feel-good story and hard-hitting play has found its way to the NFL these days, but his strong play against Penn State in Pitt's victory was the best moment to remember from the series so far. Not only did he come back and beat cancer, he played exceptionally well that day too. 

Pitt Winning The First Meeting:

Penn State fans would have enjoyed this series if they had yet to lose in the three games played so far, but Pitt winning in 2016 gave the rivalry some juice. In many ways the Panthers were in trouble from the outset the next two years given the talent on Penn State's roster, but they did manage a fair showing in the 2017 rematch at Beaver Stadium.

Pitt winning isn't about good or bad, but simply a renewed rivalry being legitimized as worth watching, and that's always a good thing. Penn State might close out the series with three straight wins, but for at least the first two years thing sat deadlocked, and that's a lot more fun for the neutral observer than a sweep.

Marcus Allen Safety:

There haven't been tons of truly memorable moments in the renewal of this series simply because the final scores have been fairly lopsided in the previous two games. Even so, Marcus Allen's safety in 2017 shut the door on any hopes of a Pitt comeback. If you want to talk about big football related moments to remember over the last four years of this series, Allen's safety is maybe the most iconic. 

Pitt made that game closer than it should have been on paper, mostly by sitting on the ball and keeping it out of the hands of Saquon Barkley, but backed up against the end zone the Panthers had to deal with other threats. And in this case, they couldn't.

Saquon Barkley Touchdown:

"I just ran away from his shadow" Barkley said after the game. Only ahead 13-3, Penn State was driving and looking to blow the game open early in the second half. A pass to Barkley sparked the eventual blowout and Pitt once again learned what everyone else already knew to be true: You aren't catching No. 26 in the open field.

Barkley would score again in the fourth quarter breaking through tackles the old fashion way, but on this play it was all about speed.


With one more game to go and the teams the closest they've been in a few years, the final and 100th meeting of these two programs seems on course for another moment. Penn State heads into Saturday's noon kick a 17-point favorite, but Pitt will almost certainly keep it closer than that for a good portion of the first half if not longer. 

Will this game give everyone a classic, or are KJ Hamler and company too much for a Panther team already 1-1 on the year and not quite as deep as they were in 2016? Stay tuned.

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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