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Pitt, PSU football add 2 years to upcoming rivalry revival

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19 Sep 1998 Tail back Cordell Mitchell #32 of the Penn St. Nittany Lions tucks the ball as he runs up field during the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Pittsburgh Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Penn St. defeated Pittsburgh 20-13. Mandator

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Pitt and Penn State are trying to do their part to keep tradition alive amidst college football's changing landscape.

The schools, who haven't met in football since 2000, said Friday they will expand their rivalry by two games, adding dates in 2018 and 2019 to those already scheduled for '16 and '17.

“Rivalries are getting to be fewer and fewer, and this is one of the great rivalries in college football,” Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said. “If you're a college football fan anywhere, this is a game you would like to see.”Penn State acting athletic director Dave Joyner said the game will serve a multitude of his school's fans.

“There are more than 50,000 Penn State alumni and fans in Western Pennsylvania, and we look forward to playing in their backyard,” Joyner said.

The series that began in 1893 will resume on Sept. 10, 2016, at Heinz Field and switch to Beaver Stadium in University Park on Sept. 16, 2017. The later games will be played Sept. 8, 2018, at Heinz and return to Beaver Stadium for the 100th game in the rivalry Sept. 14, 2019.

Penn State owns a 50-42-4 edge in the series that was played annually from 1900-1931 and 1935-1992. It was suspended after Pitt's 12-0 victory in 2000 as a result of Penn State's move to the Big Ten and Pitt joining the Big East.

Pitt will become a member of the ACC next year and play eight conference games. With four open spots for nonconference opponents, Pederson pushed for more games with Penn State, and he said Joyner was in agreement.

“When other people are trying to get to the same result, it's pretty easy,” Pederson said. “It's great for our state, certainly great for the city of Pittsburgh, and I think it's great for college football.”

Pederson said Notre Dame will remain a part of Pitt's football schedule, with home-and-home games through 2016. Then, the Irish will start playing ACC schools as part of its agreement to join the conference in all sports except football and ice hockey. Pitt will play Notre Dame and Penn State in 2016.

Pederson also said he will continue to talk with West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck about resuming the Backyard Brawl. The teams didn't play this year for the first time since 1942 after West Virginia left the Big East for the Big 12.

“Oliver and I talked a little bit at bowl time (when there was speculation the teams would meet in the Pinstripe Bowl),” Pederson said. “Both of us would have been happy to play that as well. We will continue to maintain contact.”

Fitting West Virginia into Pitt's nonconference schedule might be a challenge, especially in years when the Panthers are playing Penn State and/or Notre Dame.

Pederson said he is uncertain if Pitt would play West Virginia and Penn State in the same season.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can reached at jdipaola@tribweb.com or 412-320-7997.

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