One of the more unique aspects of college football is the rivalry game. Two teams play each other once a season, sometimes with a trophy at stake, but the more important prize is not a tangible one for the winners.
It’s bragging rights.
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In the 150 years of college football, rivalries have come and gone, but ones originated within a state’s borders almost always have stood the test of time — in part because of geographical proximity and the enmity that comes with having archrivals so close. Such is the case Saturday when No. 13 Penn State hosts Pittsburgh and 19th-ranked Iowa travels to face Iowa State.
Nittany Lions, Panthers set to clash for 100th time
The Keystone State battle between Penn State (2-0) and Pittsburgh (1-1) marks the final year of a four-game series between the teams that started in 2016. The rivalry was interrupted for 16 years after a previous four-season run from 1997-2000 and had a four-year hiatus before that resumption. Nittany Lions coach James Franklin and Panthers counterpart James Franklin are amenable to continuing the series provided it can fit their needs building the non-conference portions of their respective schedules.
The Nittany Lions have won the last two matchups between the teams, including a 51-6 beatdown at Pittsburgh last year. While Penn State has a new quarterback following Trace McSorley’s graduation, the offense has not skipped a beat under Sean Clifford, who has thrown for 559 yards and six touchdown passes on just 45 attempts. The Nittany Lions have averaged 62 points and 515 yards in their two wins after scoring 38 second-half points in a 45-13 romp past Buffalo last weekend.
Pittsburgh, which won the Coastal Division of the ACC last season, is trying to build on the momentum of a 20-10 home win over Ohio last Saturday. Kenny Pickett threw for 321 yards and a touchdown as the Panthers rolled up 481 yards of total offense and limited the Bobcats to 212 — with 75 of those on a late meaningless touchdown drive.
Pickett was held to 55 passing yards in last season’s loss, during which the Panthers allowed 44 unanswered points. Penn State, which leads the all-time series 52-43-4, has won five straight home games over Pitt since a 14-7 loss in 1988.
Hawkeyes look to retain Cy-Hawk Trophy for fifth straight year
Iowa and Iowa State’s first meeting came in 1894, one year after Pitt and Penn State first clashed, but this will be only the 67th matchup. There was a 43-year gap from 1934-77 because then-Iowa athletic director and football coach Ossie Solem had no interest in maintaining the rivalry.
Iowa won 15 straight between the teams from 1983-97, but the rivalry has gotten new life since Matt Campbell arrived at Iowa State (1-0) in 2015. Campbell has yet to beat the Hawkeyes in four tries, losing 44-41 in overtime the last time the Cyclones were hosts in 2017, and absorbed a 13-3 defeat last year in Iowa City.
Nate Stanley, who threw the game-winning touchdown pass in the 2017 game, is trying to become the first Iowa QB to beat Iowa State three straight years since Ricky Stanzi from 2008-10. Stanley threw for 236 yards and three TDs as the Hawkeyes opened their Big Ten schedule with as 30-0 rout off Rutgers last weekend. Iowa also finished with more rushing yards (194) than total yards allowed (125).
The Cyclones were idle last weekend but fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll after escaping with a 29-26 triple-overtime win over FCS foe Northern Iowa. Quarterback Brock Purdy saved Iowa State from an embarrassing loss by diving on a fumble the play before Sheldon Croney scored the game-winning touchdown from one yard.
Iowa leads the all-time series 44-22, but Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz is just 11-9 against the Cyclones.
(Cy-Hawk Trophy photo courtesy Keith Murphy official Twitter account)