A while back, you might remember a column that the Post-Gazette's Ron Cook wrote in which he declared that Pitt was tops among the local major programs, including Penn State and West Virginia. Add another that says the Panthers are ahead of their in-state rival Nittany Lions - CBS Sports:
Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh -- Luckily we get to see this one settled on the field on Sept. 10 as the two in-state foes will renew their rivalry in Heinz Field. Pat Narduzzi's changes around the facility and within the program have given us reason to believe a switch is about to be flipped, and it's not crazy to think that Pitt will not only win the in-state battle but finish with more wins and a better conference finish than the Nittany Lions.
As I said at the time of Cook's article, I believe that as of right now (meaning, this instant), that's a true statement. I think that Pitt is ahead of Penn State as a program right now, even if only slightly. For the record, I think the difference is pretty negligible. Further driving that home was the early betting line of Pitt as nine-point favorites against Penn State that was released earlier this year.
This isn't to say, of course, that the Panthers have had the better program historically or certainly in the past 30 years. But in terms of the better team right here, right now, I think it's Pitt and others seem to be leaning that way, too.
But as discussed in the article, the good thing is we'll get to see these two programs on the field. That should go a long way to telling us who's ahead at the moment.