It's been 16 years since Pitt and Penn State played the last game of a rivalry series that began in 1893. Now the game is back with the modern iterations of the Panthers and Nittany Lions meeting at Heinz Field on Saturday.
There's a lot at stake here for both teams, but especially Penn State. The Nittany Lions are the dominant recruiter Pennsylvania, which only has two Power 5 schools. A win would reinforce that but maybe not change much, while a Pitt victory could do more to turn the state's recruiting tides. (It's also possible that winning or losing this particular game doesn't make or break either program. Imagine that!)
Penn State has generally fielded better teams than Pitt, but there's reason to think the Panthers have an opening here. Penn State is still breaking in a new defensive line and quarterback to go with its great skill-position weapons, while the Panthers have the home field and a good base of experience. This ought to be fun.
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: Noon ET, ESPN. The broadcasters are Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard (analyst) and Allison Williams (sideline)
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Spread: Pitt opened as a 4.5-point favorite, and that line has gotten slightly bigger.
Three big things to know
1. There's a lot of pressure on James Franklin. There's a not-implausible school of thought that suggests a loss to Pitt could spell the beginning of the end for Franklin at Penn State. The Nittany Lions have a hard schedule, and a loss in a toss-up game of this sort could be the first domino that falls on the way to an underwhelming record. Would Franklin really get fired in such a circumstance? It's best he doesn't find out.
2. You know what? There's pressure on Pat Narduzzi, too. Narduzzi has been fairly vocal in his desire to play this game every year. (This is the first installment of a currently slated four-game series.) Narduzzi's job isn't in remote danger, but talking so exuberantly about playing Penn State and then not winning would be a bad look.
3. The running backs are a delight. Penn State's Saquon Barkley is one of the country's most electrifying speed backs in a class not far behind Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Florida State's Dalvin Cook. Pitt's James Conner, a cancer survivor and total bear of a runner, is the thunder to Barkley's lightning. They'll be a treat to watch.