You know what you're going to get when Penn State and Pittsburgh meet on the football field, and it's not just about the rivalry or the intensity and the quality of the game.
It's about the personality of the two head coaches, which will be on full display in advance of the 99th career contest between the Nittany Lions and the Panthers on Saturday night at Heinz Field.
Penn State's James Franklin, who wants his team to treat the next opponent exactly like the previous one, received national criticism last year when he said defeating Pitt was "just like beating Akron." He said the comment was not meant as a slight to the Panthers, but that his team treats every game like it's "our Super Bowl," not emphasizing one more than another.
Pitt's Pat Narduzzi, however, was direct Monday at his weekly news conference about how important this contest is to his program.
"This game is important to the city of Pittsburgh," he said. "We want to keep the importance on what it is. Anybody wants to argue and say this is no different than any other week. OK, it is. That's a fact. If you want to ignore that, you can ignore it. It's a big game."
Saturday night marks the third game of a four-game agreement that resumed the series after a 16-year absence. Pitt won, 42-39, two years ago at home, and the Lions answered last season with a 33-14 victory in Happy Valley. Penn State holds a 51-43 lead in the series, with four ties.
The Nittany Lions are coming off a narrow escape in their opener, a 45-38 overtime victory over Appalachian State. Narduzzi thinks the team will be more confident because of how it was able to pull out the win.
"I don't think that really affects anything," he said. "They got the win, that's all that matters, doesn't matter how you did it. Get some more confidence that they'll find a way in the end to get it done. Close games are great because you find out what your team is made of. I think they're better for getting in a tight game and coming out on the right end of it."
Pitt didn't have it quite as difficult Saturday, gaining a 33-7 win over Albany, an FCS team. Sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for two touchdowns and ran for one. The Panthers defense posted five sacks.
Narduzzi knows his team is going to have to be well prepared for the Lions' Trace McSorley, who ran for two touchdowns Saturday and threw a 15-yard pass to K.J. Hamler for the TD that forced overtime with 42 seconds to play.
"He has a great arm, makes good decisions, he loves to run," Narduzzi said. "He's a football player. That's his greatest strength. He plays the game with passion. What else can you say? He's got it all. He'll play in the NFL. He's a leader, too. I'm sure those guys are following him around campus right now."
Whoever is playing for either team will feel the electricity at Heinz Field, which drew a record crowd of 69,983 the last time these two teams met. Narduzzi wouldn't expect it any other way.