(POV Roundtable Call-In tonight at 8:00, please call-in to debate Pitt Football)
This last season our Panthers had two of the most rewarding and hard-fought games that a Pitt team has had to play in any one season when we first beat Penn State’s Nittany Lions in Heinz Field by a score of 42-39. Then only eight weeks later, limping along at 5 wins and 4 losses, we went down into Clemson’s Death Valley and beat their Tigers in a wild and wonderful heart-attack finish that found us on top 43-42 and began a nice three game winning streak for us.
It also shot Pitt into the national consciousness in a quick and bright-light way as the Tigers were unbeaten and headed for the NCAA playoffs, which they eventually won for the 2016 season NCAA championship.
Of course the Pitt – Penn State matches are an age-old rivalry that has been in existence since 1983 when we Panthers traveled to Penn State’s cow-dung covered field and began what was, in time, to become one of the greatest rivalries in college football.
It was played (fought) for school pride and for bragging rights and for personal satisfaction in that you could turn to your neighbor, who may well have been a PSU grad, and thumb your nose at him if we won that year. Of course he, in turn, could do the same if his Nittany Lions won. This has been the case for 97 seasons of playing each other.
For our younger readers it is almost impossible to explain what this series has meant to the students, alumni and fans who have gone before you at Pitt. It wasn’t just a game; it was THE game and it was played out on a national stage year after year. As a matter of fact for a long period of time it was the highlighted college football game during Thanksgiving week.
Back in the old days most of the Pitt-PSU games were the determiner as to who would hold the coveted Lambert Trophy which represented the winningest team in the East… back when the East had the best college football around. Apparently the Lambert Award is still in existence (who knew?) because – in another stick in the eye to Pitt – it was awarded to Penn State again in 2016…