Game Review: Penn State Nittany Lions vs Pittsburgh Panthers 11/23/85
Final Score: Penn State 31 Pitt 0
Part 2: UD 0 Pitt 62, Attendance 40,549
Weather: Cold w/ light rain; Ticket Price $13
Part 2: Partly Sunny; Ticket Price $15, Parking $4
“Glory Days” by Tree
Part 2: “Our Team, Our City” by Tree
Pitt used to play on campus at Pitt Stadium, however they now play at Heinz Field. I haven’t been to Heinz Field to see the Panthers play, but I have been there for Steeler games. I am not a fan of college teams playing in pro stadiums (see South Florida, Temple) but at least the Heinz Field color scheme somewhat matches Pitt’s. Of course, if Pitt had stuck with old school color scheme of yellow and royal blue instead of gold and navy blue it would be a better fit. Heinz stadium is a nice venue. Not as nice as PNC Park next door where the Pirates play, but still a good venue. Having not been to a Panther game at Heinz Field, I cannot comment on the tailgating scene. I would guess that it is pretty strong. Pitt’s signature cheer is “Pitt is It” to which West Virginia fans promptly modified to “Pitt is sh*t.” The city of Pittsburgh is affordable and has enough sites to see that it is worth a weekend visit in early fall.
Part 2: I was doing some last minute recon on the University of Toledo game, I discovered that the UD vs Pitt game with its noon start time was a definite second game option. We were staying in NW Pa with the in-laws so my son and I had a short hour and half drive to Pittsburgh. Again, I am normally not a fan of college football teams playing in pro stadiums but Heinz field is a location that works. With a consistent yellow color scheme and numerous Panther signage, Heinz Field transforms to Pitt stadium. Heinz Field, along with PNC Park, is backed by the Allegheny River and downtown Pittsburgh. The picturesque backdrop makes it one of the best stadiums to see a game in. Heinz has all the accoutrements of any pro stadium including two jumbo video screens, seat backs, beer sales, and an updated stainless steel version of the classic urinal trough. It also has the one free refill souvenir soda cup, a personal favorite. The tickets for this game were only $15 online with no, I repeat, no additional service fees. That’s as rare as a six-footer in Singapore and gets Pitt the figurative fist bump. Our seats were at the lower end of the end zone upper deck. They were at the perfect height where we could see the entire field but also felt very close to the action.
We did not tailgate prior to the game, but we could see some activity in the lots. The tailgating would not match the SEC, and certainly not what the Steelers bring to Heinz field. Adequate is a fair description. We didn’t see any scalpers, but that was probably because we did not hang out in the lots.
We drove to the game down route 79 and that was a number of years ago. Getting into the city is easier these days with I-279 making the drive much easier. However, depending on the route, there is the possibility of hitting multiple tunnels and bridges driving into city center so patience is a must. I strongly recommend looking at the route before making the drive. While a GPS will certainly help, downtown Pittsburgh can be confusing. I like to be ready for crossing three lanes of traffic on a bridge earlier rather than later. The best strategy for parking is to get to an open lot and just follow the fans.
Part 2: No change in the complexity Pittsburgh’s maze of bridges, tunnels and hill, and with the Pirates playing later that afternoon, parking could have been a mess. However, with a little online research we found a garage downtown not too far from the stadium but very close to the “T”, Pittsburgh’s subway. We parked for $4 and made a short walk to the station where we were joined by a number of Pitt students going to the game. The T runs right to the stadium and is the way to go if you want to skip tailgating.
This was the second year in a row I had attended the big Pitt PSU rivalry game (see Penn State). It was a night game. Both teams were having a pretty good year. In fact, Penn State was undefeated at 10-0. The game was a blow-out with Penn State dominating the entire way.
Part 2: The Blue Hens are DI FCS (or DI AA) but a very strong program. On this day however, the Heinz scoreboard ran red with UD blood. It was 21 – 0 after quarter one and that score was doubled by halftime. We caught some of the band’s performance and then bolted, grabbing my free soda refill on the way out as fuel for the drive to Toledo.
I actually went to a couple of games in 1985. The first one, I hardly remember at all other than it was Tony Dorsett day. That meant that my traveling companion, our starting tailback, Nate, and I received free Tony Dorsett replica jerseys. Of course, even the youth extra-large jerseys were ridiculously small. It didn’t stop me and Nate from taking the scissors to them to make still too small, sleeveless, half-cut jerseys which we shamelessly wore in gym class from time to time.
I remember the details of the Pitt PSU game a little better. We drove down Saturday morning and hooked up with our buddies in the freshman dorm towers. Not to disparage Pitt, but at the time it was a dump. I knew Pitt had the Cathedral of Learning but I did not realize it also had the Cathedral of Hurling. I am not alone in that assessment. My wife felt the same way when she did her campus visit to Pitt. It was over twenty years ago, so I am sure conditions are much improved.
We ditched our stuff and head to the ‘O (The Original Hot Dog Shop) for ‘O fries and a shake. The O’s still around and hopefully still worth the stop. We then came back to dorm, did a little drinking and socializing. Some of the girls in the dorm were facing painting, and when a pretty brunette offered to paint me, I happily agreed. Of course, I kept it limited to a small Pitt on one cheek and panther paw print on the other cheek (on my face – not my butt). We then all walked to Pitt stadium to watch the game. In hopes of improving my odds with said brunette, I was heartily cheering for Pitt. However, as the rain continued and PSU continued to dominate, I accidently let out a cheer for PSU (see PSU for comments on my allegiance for this rivalry). The brunette was not amused. After the game, we hit some parties eventually passing out at the dorm. While I did not have any luck with that cute Panther girl, at least I managed to not contribute to the vomit in hallways and bathrooms.
Part 2: We had a great time at Pitt and I highly recommend adding it to your list. Pittsburgh as a city is in a real renaissance and well worth the visit. Yinzers, as the denizens of the ‘Burgh are called, are an unique breed, with more than their fair share of sleeveless shirts and jorts. But below that rough exterior is a sincere and passionate love of the city and everything associated with it. Pitt is no exception…excluding the dance team – c’mon the Steelers don’t even have cheerleaders for crying out loud. Dance team, really….