Are you ready for the rubber match? It's true -- kind of. Tonight is the 7th all-time meeting between Iowa and Pitt and the teams have split the series so far, three games apiece. Pitt won the first ever meeting way back in 1931, a 20-0 victory in Iowa City. Twenty years later, Iowa exacted a measure of revenge, beating Pitt 34-17 in 1951. Pitt took the rematch in Pittsburgh a year later, 26-14. Then the teams went 56 years without playing, before resuming the series in 2008 in Pittsburgh. Pitt took that one, 21-20, when a late Iowa rally came up short. Iowa took the rematch in 2011, 31-27, when James Vandenberg led an electrifying rally for the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. And Iowa also won the most recent game, last year's contest in Pittsburgh, via another comeback win for the Hawkeyes, 24-20.
Strange but true: Pitt has had seven different head coaches in their seven different games versus Iowa. "Jock" Sutherland (career record: 111-20-12) led the Panthers in '31. "Tom" Hamilton (career record: 7-9) was in charge of the Panthers in '51. He gave way to "Red" Dawson (career record: 9-11-1) in '52. Dave Wannstedt (career record: 42-31) was the head man in '08, while Todd Graham (career record: 6-6) was the head honcho in 2011. Paul Chryst (career record: 19-20) was running the show last year and Pat Narduzzi (career record: 2-0) is leading the way now. That's a lot of coaches.
Pitt is by no means a real rival for Iowa, but the games between the two have had plenty of intrigue -- and thrills -- in recent years. Iowa's wins in 2011 and 2014 both featured thrilling second half comebacks and the 2008 loss went down to the wire, too. All of the games have featured notable happenings at the QB position for Iowa, too. In 2008, Kirk Ferentz controversially stuck with Jake Christensen in the second half... a decision that ultimately led to the end of the JC6 era at Iowa. There was no QB controversy in 2011, but the game did feature the high point of James Vandenberg's Iowa career -- he never looked better than he did whipping the ball down the field during Iowa's comeback in that game. And last year featured more QB controversy, with C.J. Beathard finally getting an extended shot to run the Iowa offense (after an injury knocked Jake Rudock out of the game) and leading an impressive comeback effort. Unlike 2008, the Pitt game wasn't an immediate harbinger of change at the QB position -- Beathard started the next game (versus Purdue) while Rudock recuperated, but he gave way to Rudock for the remainder of the season after that.
So what will the 2015 edition of Iowa-Pitt bring? Well, hopefully no drama at the quarterback position -- the only time we want to see Tyler Wiegers tomorrow is if it's the fourth quarter and Iowa has a big lead. C.J. Beathard has settled in nicely at the QB1 position and we'd like to see him continue to get more comfortable -- and confident -- directing the action for Iowa. So no QB drama... and maybe no comebacks, too? A nice, comfortable Iowa win would be nice. We haven't seen that yet in the modern version of the Iowa-Pitt series -- it'd be nice to take that notion out for a spin.
WHO: Pitt Panthers (2-0)
WHEN: 7:00 PM Central; Saturday, September 19, 2015
WHERE: Kinnick Stadium; Iowa City, IA
ONLINE: via BTN2Go (TV) and Tunein Radio (audio-only)
MOBILE: via BTN2Go (iOS and Android)
RADIO: via Hawkeye Radio Network, KRUI (89.7 FM), Sirius channel 135, XM channel 195
TV COMMENTATORS: Joe Beninati and Chuck Long
ODDS: Iowa -5.5
* The game is NOT on the primary BTN channel (Penn State-Rutgers is the game on that channel) in most markets. Iowa-Pitt will be on the BTN-Alternate channel in those markets. If you have DirecTV, that's channel 610-1. If you have Dish Network, that's 598. If you have cable, check your local listings. There's a small chance the game IS on regular BTN , so check your listings or BTN GameFinder. If you don't get a BTN alternate/overflow channel, you should still be able to stream the game using BTN2Go.
And if you're going to be at the game and you need a quick reminder of what to wear (it's the Black and Gold Spirit Game, aka the stripes game):
Even sections wear GOLD. Odd sections & UI students wear BLACK. Let's fill Kinnick loud & proud tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/SoapsgimjC— University of Iowa (@uiowa) September 18, 2015
Weather-wise, it looks like pretty much perfect -- temperatures in the 60s during the game, with no precipitation in the forecast.