YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The 14th-ranked Youngstown State football team opens a new era of Penguins football on Saturday when it makes the short trip over to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers. Kickoff for the season opener under first-year Head Coach Bo Pelini is set for 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.
YSU is returning to the site of one of its biggest regular-season victories in school history when it heads to Pittsburgh. In the 2012 season opener, the Penguins knocked off Pitt 31-17 on a rainy night that was the program’s first win over a Big Five conference program. After the contest was tied at seven following the first quarter, YSU took a 14-10 lead into halftime. The Penguins opened up a 28-10 lead early in the fourth quarter and went on to win by two touchdowns.
The game will usher in the Pelini era for the Penguins. Pelini, who posted a 67-27 record while the head coach at Nebraska, is a Youngstown native and returns home trying to get the program back to the postseason for the first time since 2006. YSU has been close in recent years, winning at least seven games in each of the past three seasons, but has come up short each time. Pelini led Nebraska to nine wins in each of his seven seasons as the head coach.
The Panthers will also debut a new head coach on Saturday as former Penguin Pat Narduzzi takes over the program. Narduzzi played at YSU in 1985 before transferring following his initial campaign. He has been one of the top defensive coordinators in college football the past 10 years and is now a first-time head coach. His father, Bill Narduzzi, guided the YSU program from 1975-85 and posted a 68-51-1 mark. He led the Penguins to the Division II playoffs in 1978 and 1979. YSU advanced to the Division II title game in 1979 falling to Delaware. In 1981, the program joined the FCS, then Division I-AA, with Narduzzi at the helm.
YSU plays its home opener on Sept. 12 when Robert Morris visits Stambaugh Stadium for the first time. The contest is set to kickoff at 7 p.m., and fans will get their first opportunity to check out the stadium’s new videoboard and lighting.