Pitt-Penn State football game gets prime-time kickoff
Turn on the lights. The Pitt-Penn State game will be played at night.
The game will be played Sept. 8 at Heinz Field, with an 8 p.m. kickoff on ABC-TV (WTAE-TV, locally), the two schools announced Wednesday morning.
It will be the historic series' first under-the-lights kickoff in 31 years. Pitt defeated Penn State, 10-0, on Nov. 14, 1987, in an ESPN game at Pitt Stadium that started at 7:30 p.m. Thirteen years later, the series was interrupted until it resumed in 2016 with the first of four scheduled games.
The nighttime kickoff is not unexpected. The Pirates recently moved the start time of their previously scheduled night game Sept. 8 to 1 p.m. to help alleviate congestion on the North Shore. It will be the first time Pitt will be the host for an 8 p.m. ABC national telecast in five years, a 28-21 victory against Notre Dame on Nov. 9, 2013, was the last.
The iconic football game, the 99th in the all-time series, will be the last scheduled game in Pittsburgh. The teams will conclude the current four-game contract next year at Penn State's Beaver Stadium.
Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke has proposed another four-game contract to Penn State, with the first game in 2026, but athletic director Sandy Barbour said last week the schools might have to look beyond 2030 before meeting again.
“We've had conversations,” Barbour said, “but I think at this point, we both agreed that based on Big Ten and ACC scheduling principles — and you know it's a complicated puzzle nowadays — that we're probably not going to do anything at this point and look at some point after 2030 to maybe do something.”
Penn State leads the all-time series, 51-43-4, with the schools splitting home victories the past two years. Pitt won, 42-39, at Heinz Field in 2016 in front of a crowd of 69,983, the largest to witness a sporting event in Pittsburgh. The Nittany Lions triumphed last year at Beaver Stadium, 33-14, with 109,989 looking on.
Before a 16-year hiatus, Pitt won, 12-0, in 2000, a game played at Three Rivers Stadium.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at JDiPaola_Trib.