On this PantherLair Podcast-Pitt won on Saturday to start the season 1-0, but there are big things to fix before the rest of the schedule starts. The offense and the running game needs to be a strength of this team if they want to be successful.
On this PantherLair Podcast-Pitt Coach Pat Narduzzi bans player interviews for this week leading up to Penn State game; plus Pitt vs PSU recruiting breakdown.
Pitt Game Notes- GAME STORYLINES
• One of college football’s most historic rivalries returns as Pitt and Penn State meet for the first time in 16 years. Pennsylvania’s lone “Power 5” programs have not met since the 2000 season when the Panthers blanked the Nittany Lions, 12-0, in Three Rivers Stadium.
• At one time an annual Keystone State clash, the series began in 1893 and has pitted former high school teammates and even family members against one another. This year’s contest marks the first of a four-game agreement that will be played from 2016-19.
• Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi grew very familiar with Penn State while in the Big Ten as Michigan State’s defensive coordinator from 2007-14. During that span, the Spartans went 3-2 against the Nittany Lions. In facing James Franklin’s team in the 2014 regular-season finale, Narduzzi’s defense yielded just 233 yards—and only 38 on the ground—in a 34-10 victory.
• Pitt opened the season in winning fashion, defeating Villanova, 28-7. The game marked the highly anticipated return of running back James Conner, who scored the Panthers’ first two touchdowns after missing virtually all of last season due to a knee injury.
• Conner’s journey back to the field has been nothing short of heroic. Three months after his knee injury, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Declared cancer free in May, Conner is back as Pitt’s starting tailback and was elected a captain by his teammates.
• Quadree Henderson had the longest kickoff return on college football’s opening Saturday. His 96-yard kick return for a touchdown to open the second half gave Pitt a 21-0 lead and marked his second kick return TD in as many games. Henderson had a 100-yard kickoff return to open the Military Bowl against Navy last season.
Pitt and Penn State meet for the 97th time in a series that dates back to 1893…the Nittany Lions lead the all-time series, 50-42-4…despite being located less than three hours apart, the schools have not played since the 2000 season…the Panthers won that last meeting, 12-0, in Three Rivers Stadium…Pitt-Penn State was once an annual affair—the teams played every year from 1900-31 and then again from 1935-92…the last four games took place between 1997-2000…Pitt and Penn State embark on a new four-year agreement that will run from 2016-19…in addition to this season’s renewal, the rivalry will also be played in Pittsburgh in 2018 (Sept. 8)…Penn State will host in 2017 (Sept. 9) and 2019 (Sept. 14)…Pitt’s longest winning streak in the series is 14 games, which took place under Coach Jock Sutherland from 1922-38…from 1913-38, Pitt achieved an incredible 20-1-2 run against the Nittany Lions (the lone loss occurring in 1919)…Penn State’s longest winning streak against the Panthers is 10 games, achieved under Joe Paterno from 1966-75.
SERIES IN BRIEF
Series Began: 1893
Series Overall: PSU leads 50-42-4
At Pittsburgh: Pitt leads 35-28-4
At Penn State: PSU leads 17-6
At Neutral Sites: PSU leads 5-1
OT Games: DNA
Last Meeting at Pitt: Sept. 16, 2000 (Pitt 12, Penn State 0)
Last Meeting at PSU: Sept. 11, 1999 (Penn State 20, Pitt 17)
Current Series Win Streak: Pitt has won 1 (2000)
Longest Pitt Series Win Streak: 14 games (1922-31, 1935-38)
Longest PSU Series Win Streak: 10 games (1966-75)
Largest Pitt Victory Margin: 35 points (41-6, 1931)
Largest PSU Victory Margin: 59 points (59-0, 1903)
Television • ESPN
Bob Wischusen, play-by-play
Brock Huard, analyst
Allison Williams, reporter