Hot Ticket

Penn State-Pitt ticket

Penn State

There’s plenty of nostalgia that’s conjured up anytime Penn State plays Pitt.

We’ll leave the merits of whether or not this remains a true rivalry game for another time, though we got a chuckle out of uncovering this image of a Penn State-Pitt ticket from the 1967 game at Beaver Stadium.

Five bucks got you a seat. Even adjusting for inflation, that was below the current market rate. We also wouldn’t mind seeing those end zone graphics return, though we’ll leave that decision to the experts who ensure Beaver Stadium’s field is the best in the nation.

If you’ve got any cool Penn State-Pitt swag, post your images to Twitter and tag The Football Letter, or share on Facebook and tag the Alumni Association.

More Than Just Football

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

While football — practices, games, film study, etc. — is obviously a large part of the college experience for Penn State players, there’s more to that experience than just the football.

Like any other college student, they have interests and hobbies away from the field. They have aspects of Penn State specifically that they love, besides suiting up on Saturdays during the fall or attending an 8 a.m. class in the Thomas Building.

We caught up with a few Nittany Lions to see what other areas they enjoy most about the Penn State experience.  

For linebacker Micah Parsons, his favorite non-football aspect of Penn State is the opportunity to get an up-close look at the Nittany Lions’ dominant wrestling program, which won an NCAA title in Parsons’ first year on campus and has captured eight of the past nine championships overall. 

“Being able to go to those wrestling matches for free is crazy,” Parsons said. “To be able to see Cael (Sanderson) and them do what they do best, it’s an awesome feeling.” 

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Parsons is a regular at nearly every home wrestling dual for Penn State, and doesn’t shy away from his support on Twitter, particularly when the Nittany Lions are competing on the mat at the Big Ten Championships or for an NCAA title. 

“If I could play any other sport here it’d definitely be wrestling,” he said. “They have like a mini college football experience and atmosphere in Rec Hall or the BJC. It’s loud, insane and intense. It’s amazing to watch it as a fan.”

Running backs Nick Eury and Ricky Slade agreed the support of Penn State fans and alumni is unrivaled.

When the team travels for away games, Eury and Slade are accustomed to seeing Penn States invade the opposing team’s stadium. 

“With Penn Staters, no matter who it is and even if you’ve never met them before, they make you feel like family,” Slade said. “I like it. It’s a home away from home type feeling when you’re around other Penn Staters.” 

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Eury said he’s even interacted with Penn State fans on vacation, who approach him in his blue and white gear and strike up a conversation, talking to him as if they’ve known him for his whole life when they only just met a few minutes before then. 

That Penn State connection doesn’t really ever end. 

“Wherever you go if you’re wearing a Penn State hat or shirt, they’re excited to talk about it and you’re excited to talk about it. That’s such a cool thing,” Eury said. “Wherever you go, there’s going to be a Penn State fan and they’re going to love you for going to Penn State. The Penn State brand is incredible.” 

Eury might be getting a little bit more attention from Penn State fans. You might remember his incredible touchdown run in the season opener against Idaho, in which he dragged three Vandal defenders into the end zone for his first career touchdown.

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Defensive tackle Antonio Shelton couldn’t narrow his favorite Penn State trait outside of football. 

There a few things that will stick with him long after his playing career is over. First, he said he was thankful for the opportunity to join a fraternity at Penn State. 

Second, the bonding and relationships built with his teammates.


The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

“I love them to death. It’s one of my favorite parts of being here, being in college, Shelton said. “We get each other through things. Friendships for life.” 

And lastly?

“That Penn State education, man. I’m getting a degree that’s going to be extremely valuable in getting my foot in the door in my profession,” Shelton, who is majoring in journalism, said.  “Getting a high-class education is so important to me.”

Nittany Lion Look Back (And Ahead)

Pittsburgh/Maryland

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Saturday’s meeting between No. 13 Penn State and Pittsburgh — the 100th meeting between the two Power 5 programs in the Commonwealth — had an old-school feel to it at times. Both defenses controlled most of the game, with neither offense able to get into much of a flow. 

A 13-play, 88-yard drive in the third quarter by the Nittany Lions offense, coupled with a goal line stand in the fourth quarter for their defense (aided by the puzzling decision by Panthers coach to kick a field goal from the one-yard line) was enough to see Penn State come away with the 17-10 win. 

Looking Back

Star of The Game: LB Micah Parsons

This was the kind of performance Penn State fans envisioned from Micah Parsons when James Franklin and his staff secured his 5-star commitment as a recruit in December of 2017. Parsons was all over the field on Saturday, despite missing a few snaps to get checked on in the injury tent in the fourth quarter. He led the team with nine tackles and played a key role in setting the tone early for the defense. The scary part in all of this? This is only Parsons’ second season of playing linebacker. He’s only going to get better. 

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Moment of Magic: K Jordan Stout sets a program record

With Pitt just having taken a 10-7 lead in the waning minutes of the first half, Penn State needed any type of score it could get to go into halftime. The Nittany Lions offense moved the ball into the Panthers’ territory but the drive stalled with a few seconds left. Jordan Stout nailed the ensuing 57-yard field goal to tie the game and give Penn State some momentum to close the half. Stout’s kick broke the program record for longest field goal, previously held by Chris Bahr’s 55-yard boots in 1975 against Temple, Ohio State and Syracuse. 

Looking Ahead

Bye Week Blues

Penn State enters its first bye week of the season 3-0, but no doubt with plenty to correct between now and when it faces Maryland for a Friday night clash on Sept. 27. The Terrapins  also have a bye week this week and will look to rebound from a deflating road loss at Temple. The loss to the Owls will sting head coach Mike Locklsey after his team put together a complete performance just a week earlier in a 63-20 demolition over then-No. 21 Syracuse. 

Jackson brings stability 

When Josh Jackson transferred to Maryland from Virginia Tech in February, Terps fans hoped he would finally bring some stability to a quarterback position that had been a revolving door in the last handful of seasons. Through three games, Jackson has certainly done that, tossing 724 yards and eight touchdowns. If he can maintain that type of production the rest of the season, Maryland will almost certainly reach a bowl game. 

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

A familiar face 

Penn State fans should be familiar with Mike Locksley. He coached the Terrapins in an interim role during the 2015 season and nearly pulled off the upset over Penn State in a 31-30 loss in Baltimore. He was also on Ron Zook’s staff at Illinois during the Fighting Illini’s best run of recent memory in the mid-2000s, and helped recruit players like Vontae Davis and Arrelious Benn to Champaign. His first two games were nearly perfect back on the sidelines for the Terps on a permanent basis, though the loss at Temple has brought things back down to earth a bit.

Penn State Preview: Pitt

Penn State at Pitt  (Photo by Steve Manuel)

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions on fall Saturdays this season.

 

Game details: No. 13/11 Penn State vs. Pitt, noon kickoff, broadcast on ABC.

 

Venue: Beaver Stadium, where Penn State boasts an all-time record of 292-74. 

 

Weather forecast (via AccuWeather): High of 74 degrees, with a few showers.

 

The line: Penn State – 17.5

 

Last week: Penn State used an explosive second half to upend Buffalo 45-13, while Pitt outlasted Ohio 20-10.

 

All-time series: Penn State leads 52-43-4.

 

Last meeting (2018): Penn State dominated Pitt in the rain at Heinz Field, winning 51-6.

 

Throwback classic (1981): Once upon a time, Pitt’s football program was nationally relevant. The Panthers were ranked No. 1 in 1981, but not after the Nittany Lions overcame an early two-touchdown deficit to score 48 consecutive points, resulting in a 48-14 victory that dethroned and derailed Pitt. Todd Blackledge outdueled Dan Marino, completing 12-of-23 passes for 262 yards, and two touchdowns to Kenny Jackson. The defense intercepted Marino four times, and the Panthers lost three fumbles. You can read more about the game in this New York Times article.

 

Overview: Here it is, the 100th and last scheduled meeting between Penn State and Pitt. Did this use to be a rivalry? Sure? Is it anymore? Eh, not really. The game is still important, just as much as Idaho and Buffalo, though not more beyond that. As James Franklin said earlier this week, players aren’t choosing Penn State because of the outcome of one game, so there aren’t recruiting implications like before. And it’s a non-conference game. Pitt won in 2016, and Penn State went on to win the Big Ten and play in the Rose Bowl. The Panthers, meanwhile, finished the year 8-5 with a loss to Northwestern in the Pinstripe Bowl. So, this game doesn’t have lasting ramifications like it once did. 

 

Penn State wins if: the Nittany Lions establish the running game. Most likely, Penn State will have a handful of explosive plays, with Sean Clifford proving he can throw a nice deep ball. However, Penn State can’t depend on those plays to win. A solid ground attack should go a long way to ensure the Nittany Lions win their third straight in this series.

 

Pitt wins if: the Panthers can put together sustained drives all game. Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett struggled last year — indicated by the six points the Panthers scored — though he threw a career-high 321 yards in last week’s victory over the Bobcats. Pitt will need that level of playmaking to have a chance Saturday.

 

Keep an eye on: KJ Hamler. The speedy and electric wide receiver scored on a jet sweep in last year’s game at Heinz Field, and he’s spoken about having his role expanded. Basically, the idea is to get Hamler the ball as much as possible, put him in open space, and let him do what he does best.

 

Trivia tidbit: Penn State has won nine straight games over non-conference opponents.

 

Predictions

John Patishnock: Penn State 42, Pitt 21

 

Vince Lungaro: Penn State 38, Pitt 17

From the Archives: Penn State V. Pitt (1974)

IMG_3987

Penn State-Pitt matchups over the years have featured some classic battles.

And also, some memorable stories.

We’ll throw it back a little further for this week’s edition of From the Archives, looking at how The Football Letter’s creator and original writer Ridge Riley ’32 shared an in-depth look at Penn State football like nobody else could.

The year was 1974. The site: Three Rivers Stadium.

Penn State has largely dominated this series for the last 50-plus years (25-8-1 since 1966), and this impressive run includes a win coming on Thanksgiving night in their regular season finale in ’74.

During a pre-game players meeting — which preceded the team prayer — running back Tom Donchez gave such a fiery pep talk that he closed out his remarks by throwing his helmet off the side of a locker.

The helmet bounced off and hit starting linebacker Greg Buttle square between the eyes, knocking him out cold. This was problematic, perhaps mostly because Buttle called the defensive plays.

Riley recounted this sequence in The Football Letter that recapped the victory, writing that when Joe Paterno heard Buttle couldn’t play, the legendary coach was heard muttering, “Oh God, can’t we even get through the team prayer without an injury?”

In a sign of the times, even though he was “wobbly and a trifle pale,” Buttle played from the start after he was “patched up like a prizefighter,” Riley wrote. Despite his injury, Buttle was “king of the linebackers,” and assistant head coach John O’Hara proudly declared after the game that Buttle never missed a signal while calling plays.

This last note is even more remarkable since Buttle reported later, “Everything seemed to be in slow motion for the first quarter. I hadn’t known what hit me, and when I came to, everybody was gone. It was just like a bad dream.”

After receiving six stitches in a gash over his eye at halftime, Riley wrote that Buttle played even better in the second half, as the team leader refused to come out of the game.

Ranked No. 10 nationally going into the contest, Penn State collected a 31-10 victory over No. 18 Pitt. The Nittany Lions then capped off the season with a 41-20 victory over Baylor in the Cotton Bowl.

A classic 1-2 punch.

Nittany Lion Look Back (And Ahead)

Buffalo and Pitt

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

UNIVERSITY PARK — It was the proverbial tale of two halves in the second game of the season for Penn State. The Nittany Lions struggled in the first two quarters against a Buffalo team fresh off a 10-win season. Some fans showered the players and coaches with boos as they jogged off the field and into the locker room, not hiding their displeasure in seeing their team down 10-7. 

The second half was a completely different story, though. Penn State blew past the Bulls in dominant fashion, outscoring their MAC foe 38-3 in the second half for a 45-13 win. It was an offensive, and defensive, explosion that showed what the Nittany Lions can become when they’re clicking. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look back at Saturday’s win before looking ahead to Week 3 opponent Pittsburgh. 

Looking Back

Star Of The Game: TE Pat Freiermuth  

After being held to a single catch for negative yardage in the first half, Pat Freiermuth rebounded for a seven-catch, 99-yard performance in the second frame. He said he asked offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne and tight ends coach Tyler Bowen to throw his way more in the second half, and they seemingly obliged. It wasn’t so much he was frustrated with his lack of targets, and more so he felt he was someone the team could lean on to get a spark on offense. The second play of the third quarter saw Clifford connect with Freiermuth for 17 yards to the Buffalo 48-yard line. On Penn State’s second drive, after a John Reid interception return for a touchdown and a punt from Buffalo, Clifford flicked a throw over the middle and Freiermuth did the rest, racing past the safety and into the end zone. In a flash, the Nittany Lions were back in control, 21-10. 

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Moment of Magic: John Reid’s pick six

Following a Ricky Slade fumble on the Nittany Lions’ opening possession of the third quarter, the Bulls were back on offense, looking to extend their unexpected lead. John Reid wasn’t having it. The fifth-year cornerback read the eyes of Buffalo quarterback Matt Myers perfectly as he threw an out route to his receiver. Reid jumped the route, snagged Myers’ pass and jetted to the end zone. It was exactly the jolt the team, and Beaver Stadium, needed to spring back into life. The boos became cheers and chants. The Nittany Lions never looked back.

Looking Ahead

Mixed bag for Pitt’s Pickett through two weeks

Pitt dropped its season opener to Virginia, 30-14. Starting quarterback Kenny Pickett was under duress all game long behind a Panthers offensive line that is breaking in four new starters. Pickett attempted 41 passes against the Cavaliers, but completed just 21 of them for 185 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Things were much better in the Week Two win over Ohio, with Pickett throwing a career-high 321 yards and a touchdown. He was also much better protected, with the Panthers only surrendering a single sack. 

Injuries to the Pitt defensive front

The Panthers will be without two key pieces when they face the Nittany Lions. Junior defensive tackle Keyshon Camp, who injured his knee in the season opener, has been ruled out for the season. So to has junior defensive end Rashad Weaver, who went down with a knee injury during training camp.

Coming to an end

Saturday’s game between Penn State and Pitt is the last scheduled meeting between the two Commonwealth rivals. There are no immediate plans to renew the series after the latest four-game matchup. Pitt won in dramatic fashion in 2016. The Nittany Lions have dominated the past two games, though, beating the Panthers by a combined score of 84-20. Penn State is looking to make it three wins in a row over the Panthers, and claim its 53rd win in the series.

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Penn State Preview: Buffalo

Penn State v. Idaho 79-7 (Photo by Steve Manuel)

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Each week, we’ll tell you what to expect, what to keep an eye on, and where and when you can catch the Nittany Lions on fall Saturdays this season.

 

Game details: No. 15/14 Penn State vs. Buffalo, 7:30 p.m., broadcast on FOX.

 

Venue: Beaver Stadium, where Penn State boasts an all-time record of 291-74. 

 

Weather forecast (via AccuWeather): High of 73 degrees, partly sunny and pleasant.

 

The line: Penn State – 28.5

 

Last week: Penn State pounded Idaho 79-7, while Buffalo defeated Robert Morris 38-10.

 

All-time series: Penn State leads 2-1.  

 

Last meeting (2015): Penn State won 27-14 at a soggy Beaver Stadium. This game also represented the beginning of the legend of Saquon Barkley, who pulled off the first of his many impressive hurdles over an unsuspecting Bulls defender. Barkley also scored a touchdown and ran for more than 100 yards in his first home game.

 

Throwback classic (1900): We’ll give this category to the Bulls, who defeated Penn State 10-0 at Buffalo. While William “Pop” Golden led the Nittany Lions, the Bulls played without a coach.

 

Overview: The one question everyone seems to be asking is “Just how good is this Penn State team?” There’s a ton of talent, and perhaps more experience than some fans think — thanks to guys redshirting and getting game reps last year — though can this year’s Nittany Lions compete for a Big Ten title? It’ll probably be another month before we have a clear answer, though they can continue to impress Saturday against another overmatched opponent. However, Buffalo is capable of making this competitive. The Bulls won a school-record 10 games last season, winning the MAC East Division. Buffalo rushed for 285 yards last week in its season-opening victory against Robert Morris, though Penn State’s impressive defensive front will (obviously) present a much, much bigger challenge. Still, it might be good for Penn State’s long-term interest if the team faces more pushback before facing Pitt and the Big Ten slate.

 

Penn State wins if: the Nittany Lions avoid mistakes. Penn State clearly has more talent, size, and strength, and it’s difficult seeing Buffalo sustain long drives the entire game. Don’t give the Bulls a short field and stay on schedule offensively, and Penn State should have a carousel of reserves see game time this Saturday, too.

 

Buffalo wins if: Penn State loses it. Even if the Bulls play a near-perfect game, chances are it still won’t be enough to pull off a historic upset. Making a few plays early will certainly help, and if this were a noon kickoff, maybe that could be more probably, though a primetime kick at Beaver Stadium will have all of Happy Valley rocking from the start.

 

Count on: another running back rotation. It worked so well the first week, so why change anything? Five backs combined for seven rushing touchdowns, and the offensive line should have its way against the Bulls. Chances are no one back will get more than 12-15 carries (Noah Cain’s nine attempts against Idaho were a team-high mark), so look for the most talented group of running backs in the country to once again share carries.

 

Keep an eye on: Jahan Dotson. The sophomore wide receiver was quiet last week, totaling just one catch for 13 yards. Dotson has plenty of speed and has earned the praise of coaches and teammates in the fall, and this could be the week when he begins to post numbers that match his big-time talent.

 

Trivia tidbit: Penn State has been ranked in the AP poll for the last 41 weeks — the fifth-longest streak in the country. It’s also the fifth-longest mark in program history.

 

Predictions

John Patishnock: Penn State 48, Buffalo 13 

 

Vince Lungaro: Penn State 50, Buffalo 13