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Pitt and Penn State’s matchup at Heinz Field sells out

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NCAA Football: Penn State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt and Penn State are scheduled to square off at Heinz Field on Sept. 8 in what could be the final matchup between the intrastate rivals in the city of Pittsburgh until sometime after 2030, and on Tuesday, Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke announced that the game had sold out.

“We are officially sold out for the game on Saturday, Sept. 8,” Lyke told Jerry DiPaola of the Tribune-Review. “We all know it’s going to be an incredible 99th game of this rivalry. … I think it’s going to be an extraordinary night for the students at Pitt to be a part of that electric atmosphere.”

When asked about the anticipated composition of the crowd in terms of the ratio of Pitt fans to Penn State fans, Lyke said she expected a “blue and gold night.”

“My expectation is going to be a blue and gold night, and it’s going to be filled with a lot of Panthers fans,” Lyke said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of Penn State fans that are relatively close, and so I’m sure there’s going to be a decent showing. But there’s no way to really tell. But I expect our Panthers to outnumber and outcheer Penn State.”

In addition to selling out the Sept. 8 game, Pitt has experienced an uptick in overall ticket sales, as the school has sold “about 50,000 season tickets,” according to Pitt assistant athletic director Ben Smith. Smith noted that the figure was up from last season but still “a little bit behind” 2016.

For Pitt, the news is positive on both the micro level of the individual game and the macro level of the overall season. The sales also demonstrate a surprising level of interest and faith in a team that most recently went 5-7 and failed to reach a bowl game for the first time in a decade.

Of course, with a once-complicated quarterback situation apparently settled and a defense that many expect to take a step forward this season, Pitt might just be more of a draw in 2018.

Tickets for the Penn State game are still available on the secondary market, and another component of Lyke’s sit-down with the media was the revelation that Pitt had partnered with StubHub to provide season ticket holders and others purchasing tickets with certain perks.

The game between Pitt and Penn State will be televised by ABC at 8 p.m. ET on Sept. 8.