Nittany Lions Again Take A Low-Key Approach To Pitt Game

Last Scheduled Meeting Is Saturday At Beaver Stadium

Eric Hagman
September 10, 2019 - 7:20 pm
James Franklin and Pat Narduzzi

Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports


University Park, PA (93.7 The Fan) - If Penn State coach James Franklin has said it once, he's said it four times--facing Pitt is no different than playing any other team on its schedule.  As the Nittany Lions and Panthers prepare to wrap up a four-year series and meet for the final time until who knows when, Franklin on Tuesday dusted off his annual pre-Pitt mantra.

"The same discussion that comes up all the time is how we approach these games," Franklin said.  "We don't approach them any different, and that will never change."  Franklin made it clear that while fans, lettermen and media members are free to hype this rivalry game, he and his players view it as another game on the schedule.

Junior defensive tackle Antonio Shelton,  an Ohio native, echoed his coach's comments.  "Some people will make this game a bigger deal than it really is," said Shelton.  "It's not to say we're taking Pitt lightly at all. We treat every opponent the same.  We treated Buffalo like we did Idaho.  We're going to treat Pitt like we treated Buffalo.  We treat everybody else the same way.  Our process doesn't deviate because once you do that you start making mistakes and in this era of college football you can't afford to make mistakes if you want to win."

One player that has a sense of the rivalry is senior tight end Nick Bowers from Kittanning.  He also initially committed to Pitt before flipping to Penn State.  This summer he experienced the flip side to his flip when another Pittsburgh-area player, safety John Petrishen, left the Nittany Lions to join the Panthers as a graduate transfer.

"J.P. is one of my best friends," Bowers said. "Obviously, I keep in touch with him.  I don't think anyone on the team was mad at him.  I wasn't mad at him.  He had to do what's best for him, but things happen." 

Franklin revealed that the moment Petrishen signed with Pitt, the coaches changed all their offensive and defensive signals.

And a day after Pat Narduzzi called Franklin "a great guy" and told reporters he vacations with him (which prompted laughter),  Franklin said his Pitt counterpart "has done a phenomenal job."

Kickoff is at noon Saturday on 93.7 The Fan.