Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Significance of Penn State-Pitt Not Lost on Nittany Lions

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Significance of Penn State-Pitt Not Lost on Nittany Lions

Article excerpt

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Penn State-Pittsburgh used to be a storied rivalry, filled with memories for many people. None of them will put on a helmet when the teams play their 97th game since 1893.

The two teams last met in 2000 and will play the first of a four- game series on Saturday at Heinz Field.

The renewed game comes after Penn State dominated the series from the 1960s until the teams last played. The Nittany Lions were 27-9- 1 over that span and consistently the bigger team in Pennsylvania.

Penn State coach James Franklin said none of his players have even seen a game between the teams in their lifetimes.

"I don't think they were watching many games at 2, 3 and 4 years old, Franklin said.

But the team has been imparting the history of the title "Beasts of the East on its players.

Penn State cornerbacks coach Terry Smith played in four Penn State-Pitt games from 1988 to 1991 and relayed a few stories about the history of the rivalry.

In turn, they've become familiar with the big names and roles players like Dan Marino and Todd Blackledge played, Pitt's dominance in the 20s and 30s when they met exclusively in the Steel City and Penn State's after 1960.

They've got a better feeling now why the game's announcement generated excitement nearly four years ago.

"We're not naive to the fact of what everybody else is is saying, Penn State receiver Chris Godwin said.

Pitt players aren't saying anything.

By decree of head coach Pat Narduzzi, the Panthers aren't speaking with reporters this week. Perhaps Narduzzi's hope that players avoid all distractions by staying quiet which is unlike other weeks when they're permitted to talk to the press is evidence enough that they want to win badly.

"It's Penn State week this week, Narduzzi said. "I know last week a lot of questions were asked if we were focused or not. Whether we were or not, we got the W' so it really doesn't matter. …

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