One of the longest-running college football rivalries between Penn State and West Virginia will finally be renewed, starting in 2023.
Both PSU and WVU made the announcement on their official websites Thursday morning, a decision that has been anticipated for months. In July, Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports reported that a rivalry was in the making and only the details needed to be hammered out.
Now, they have been.
The home-and-home series will begin at Penn State on Sept. 2, 2023 and continue at West Virginia on Aug. 31, 2024. By the time the series returns to WVU, it will have been just shy of 32 years since the two rivals last met in Morgantown on Oct. 24, 1992.
PSU director of athletics Dave Joyner expressed his excitement at the revival of the series, as the Nittany Lions have made it a point of emphasis to add traditional rivals back to their nonconference schedule:
We are excited to announce this football series with West Virginia. The renewal of our West Virginia rivalry is a series our alumni and fans have wanted to see on our future schedules. I am appreciative of the efforts of Oliver Luck in getting our two schools together again. As we prepare to move to a nine-game Big Ten schedule (2016), I am very pleased that we have been to able to schedule old rivals like West Virginia and Pitt and add Virginia Tech in upcoming years.
Penn State holds an overwhelming 48-9-2 all-time advantage in the rivalry, which dates back to 1904. The two rivals played every year from 1947 until 1992. At 59 games, the West Virginia series is Penn State's second-most played, behind only Syracuse and Pitt at 71 and 96 games respectively.
One of the rivalry's most notable games came in 1984 when the Mountaineers broke the Nittany Lions' 29-year winning streak with a 17-14 upset in Morgantown. WVU fans charged the field and tore down the goalposts with time still remaining on the clock.
That win came just two years after current WVU athletic director Oliver Luck was drafted into the NFL by the Houston Oilers. Luck graduated as one of the greatest quarterbacks in school history but never beat PSU.
Looking back at his past experience in the rivalry, Luck was thrilled to strike an agreement to restore the competition:
I know how exciting it was to play in Beaver Stadium and to have the Nittany Lions come to Morgantown. I think the renewal of this series will be great for the fan bases of the two schools as both locations provide an easy drive. I want to thank Athletic Director Dave Joyner and Coach Bill O’Brien for their efforts in getting this series renewed. Both Universities have rich traditions and history, and to be able to revive the memories and the fun is what makes college football so special.
Which other regional rivalry would you most like to see renewed?
Penn State will also continue its series with rival Pitt for four consecutive seasons from 2016 to 2019. That series will be in State College in odd years and Pittsburgh during even years.
Additionally, PSU will play a home-and-home slate with Virginia Tech, in 2022 and 2023, first in Blacksburg, then in State College. The 2022 contest in Blacksburg will be the first time the schools meet, barring a bowl meeting between now and then.
In July, WVU also announced its series revival with VT in 2021 and 2022. The Mountaineers will host the Hokies in 2021, then travel to Blacksburg in 2022.
Luck has also said publicly that he would like to renew West Virginia's rivalry with Pitt as well, as written by Amit Batra of The Daily Athenaeum. However, nothing official has been announced.
With conference realignment erasing many rivalries, regional battles like Penn State and West Virginia should become major attractions once they reappear on schedules.
And with the coming College Football Playoff, a premium is clearly being placed on quality nonconference opponents.