No. 13 Penn State and Pitt meet for 100th time

Field Level Media

September 10, 2019 at 6:49 pm.

No. 13 Penn State will host Pittsburgh in the 100th meeting between the schools on Saturday afternoon.

The longtime Pennsylvania rivals, who did not play each other from 2001-15, have no future meetings scheduled. The Nittany Lions lead 52-43-4, and the Panthers haven’t won in Happy Valley since 1988.

Penn State (2-0) won its first two games this season handily — 79-7 over Idaho and 45-13 against Buffalo after rallying from a 10-7 halftime deficit.

Sean Clifford has tossed six touchdown passes in his first two career starts, including four against the Bulls. Clifford was 16 of 22 for 279 yards against Buffalo after a sluggish start.

“Each drive you need to treat individually,” Clifford said. “Certain things will be different each time. I would say a rhythm is just completing balls and placing them where you want to be. I thought personally I could’ve done a lot better on my deep ball tonight, but that’s something I can improve on.”

Penn State’s defense, which was so stingy against the Vandals, scuffled for stretches against Buffalo. The Bulls finished with 429 yards of total offense.

For the Nittany Lions to remain undefeated, they’ll have to shore up the defensive side.

“Obviously, the first half was rough, but it showed a lot about how we are as a team,” safety Garrett Taylor said. “We were able to internalize that, get over mistakes we made in the first half and come out in the second half and correct that. It said a lot about us as a team.”

Pitt (1-1) lost its opener 30-14 to Virginia before responding with a hard-fought 20-10 victory over Ohio.

Since this is potentially the last clash in a storied rivalry, the Panthers will surely be extra energized.

“Everybody in the state of Pennsylvania who is not sitting in a football office somewhere in the state would say, ‘Hey, why don’t we play this game?'” Panthers coach Pat Narduzzi said. “We all want to play this game. It’s a big game. It’s another game for us, but it’s a big game because it’s a rivalry in-state game.

“I’m going to emphasize with our kids you might be the last team to ever get to play in this game. Might be. I don’t know.”

Pitt’s Kenny Pickett bounced back with a career-best effort against Ohio, going 26 of 37 for 321 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He was sacked four times and picked off twice against Virginia.

“We just executed better all around,” Pickett said. “Not just myself, but the offensive line blocked great, receivers got open. It was just clicking.”

Wideout Maurice Ffrench caught a career-high 10 passes against Ohio, including a 74-yard touchdown.

But the Panthers were only able to muster 20 points, a trend that must change if they’re going to win in a hostile environment in State College.

“It doesn’t get easier from here,” Ffrench said. “But it was definitely a little confidence boost (for the passing game).”

Pittsburgh is 0-5 on the road against Penn State since a 14-7 win in 1988.