Date set for the Lions and Panthers to meet under the lights

Penn State Athletics has announced that the Nittany Lions will visit Panther territory to face off against their longtime rivals, the Pittsburgh Panthers, Sept. 8, 2018 at Pitt. The Keystone Classic begins at 8 p.m. and airs on ABC.

Historically, the Nittany Lions are 51-43-4 against the Panthers. Clearly, the games are highly competitive, but the Nittany Lions have always persevered and maintained their lead over the Panthers.

The longstanding rivalry dates back over two decades, and the electric feeling in the stadium during a Penn vs. Pitt game has only grown in recent years. Penn State’s loss to Pitt in 2016 did not keep the Lions down; it motivated them to seek revenge and conquer Pitt at home in 2017. Penn State junior Makayla Lorenz described the stadium experience at the 2017 Penn vs. Pitt game as “unrivaled” and “the best atmosphere in college football.” Both the athletes and the fans felt the need to bring Pitt back into submission, giving their all on the field and in the stands.

This exciting atmosphere is not limited to Beaver Stadium or Penn State’s campus. The State College community and the surrounding area have many interesting places to eat, drink, explore and catch every play of the game. Before the game, fans can stop at popular State College restaurants, such the Corner Room, to indulge in Ye Olde College Diner’s famous grilled stickies and visit McLanahan’s downtown to stock up on tailgating essentials and Penn State merchandise. Those looking to explore the nearby area during their stay can visit the Historic Penn’s Cave & Wildlife Park or Tussey Mountain. Don't worry about finding a place to stay for the weekend; Holiday Inn Express, Marriott Springhill Suites and Hampton Inn & Suites can all be found nearby.

Looking Back at 2017

Fans know what to expect from a game against Pittsburgh. Last year, Penn State defeated the Panthers 33-14, thanks to their teamwork and leadership. Of course, Mike Gesicki's touchdown catches, Saquon Barkley's rushes and touchdowns and Marcus Allen's tackles played a significant role in the victory and proved that they are athletes of professional caliber. Barkley, Gesicki and Allen, as well as teammates Troy Apke, DaeSean Hamilton and Christian Campbell, were drafted into the NFL this spring, with Barkley leading the way as the No. 2 draft pick overall. These young men have left big shoes to fill, so the team's new recruits have to step up to help lead Penn State to another victory over the Panthers.

In a move to put their best foot forward this season, the Nittany Lions moved freshman linebacker and Harrisburg native Micah Parsons from middle to outside partway through spring camp. Parsons has been described as “the highest-ranked Penn State recruit in more than a decade,” and was ranked No. 4 in the 2018 class by 247 sports and No. 7 by ESPN. Parsons will be joined by 5-star wide receiver Justin Shorter, 15 4-star commits and 6 3-star commits this season, and it's safe to say Penn State fans have high expectations for these young men.

The Lions will not be relying solely on new players, though. Senior quarterback Trace McSorley will continue to lead the team, and his actions on the field have left a strong impression on sports fans.

“He’s guaranteed to be the most statistically significant signal-caller in team history, and perhaps the best,” ESPN said of McSorley in April.

Other key players are still at State as well. Juwan Johnson is taking over for Hamilton as wide receiver and is expected to be a breakout star. Miles Sanders is taking over as running back for fan favorite Barkley. Fans are eager to see how McSorley and Sanders’ relationship will have developed between this past winter and September.

Season Opener and Ticket Information

The first Penn State game of the 2018 college football season takes place September 1, at home against Appalachian State. The themes are Youth Sports and Spirit Day for Youth Cheer and Dance, and it will include ticket packages for a pre-game youth basketball and football clinics and an opportunity for Cheer and Dance participants can perform during halftime.

To join the Nittany Lion Club and buy 2018 season tickets or club seating in Beaver Stadium, visit www.PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY weekdays between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

To make sure you never miss a minute of the action, follow HappyValley.com on Twitter and Facebook to see live tweets and posts about games and interviews with athletics staff and players. If you're in need of a place to stay game-day weekends, check out Happy Valley VIP for special hotel packages.

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