Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi calls Penn State matchup ‘a rivalry game’; reviewing the top games in series history

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Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi: Yes, it’s a rivalry

Per Pennlive.com’s Lauren Kirschman, Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said during a teleconference with reporters Monday that while Penn State might pooh-pooh the notion that there is a rivalry with the Panthers, his players certainly do not.

“I know it’s a rivalry game for us,” he said, according to Kirschman. “Some people think it’s a rivalry game, some people don’t. It doesn’t matter what they think; it’s just matters what we think. If we think it is, then it is for us and it doesn’t have to be for them. Everybody has different rivalries.”

The Panthers beat PSU, 42-39, last season, and the rematch is scheduled for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Beaver Stadium. Narduzzi has elected to keep his players off-limits to reporters this week — he said Monday he just wants to keep them “tight,” according to Kirschman’s report — but she did speak with a few after Pitt’s 28-21 overtime victory over Youngstown State on Saturday.

“I know I’m supposed to hate them,” quarterback Max Browne joked, according to Kirschman, “and I guess now I do hate them. … I’m new to it [having transferred from USC], but I’m all in on the rivalry.”

Walking down memory lane

John McGonigal of the Centre Daily Times lists the top 5 games in the Penn State-Pitt series and correctly concludes that the 1981 matchup — a 48-14 PSU victory — was No. 1. The Panthers, led by no less a quarterback than Dan Marino, stormed to a 14-0 lead before the Lions rallied and turned the game into a runaway.

Tale of the tape

Andrew Callahan of Lions247, who is excellent at this sort of thing, broke down video of the Akron game and reached several conclusions about the Lions’ offense and defense — one of them being that we should not expect to see PSU’s top 2 quarterbacks in the game all that often, as was the case for three plays on Saturday. His reasoning is the threat of injury to Tommy Stevens is too great and the fact that Stevens entered at running back. The Lions are obviously not as threatening when Saquon Barkley is on the bench.

Passing fancy

Jack R. Hirsh of the Daily Collegian noted how well Stevens and starting QB Trace McSorley spread the wealth in the Akron game, targeting 10 different receivers and connecting with eight of them. Tight end Mike Gesicki told Hirsh it’s “unreal how many playmakers we have.”

Tim Shaw named Titans’ captain

As noted by ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe, former Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw, who is battling ALS, was named one of the Titans’ captains this season. The ex-Penn State player was with the Titans from 2010-12 but announced three years ago he was battling the disease. After being named a captain, he tweeted, “Don’t wait for someone to call you a leader. Lead where you are now!”

Women’s volleyball team jumps to No. 3

FightOnState.com’s Mark Harrington wrote that the PSU women’s volleyball team jumped two spots to No. 3 in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association poll after beating top-ranked Stanford and the host school in the Texas A&M Invitational.

Remembering a colleague

Mark Brennan of FightOnState.com posted a photo on Twitter of several PSU beat reporters who gathered to honor the memory of the late Jerry Kellar before Penn State’s game against Akron on Saturday. Kellar, who covered the team for the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, died in May 2007 at age 46, and Penn State planted a tree in his honor on the press box side of Beaver Stadium.

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