By geography alone, the Penn State-Pitt football rivalry should be a natural. Given the impact of the two institutions on the state's economy and culture and the fierce loyalty of tens of thousands of in-state alumni, an annual game between their football teams should be mandatory.

Fans across the commonwealth rejoiced this week when Pitt and Penn State announced that they will play in 2016 at Pittsburgh and in 2017 at Penn State.

Back before both teams gave up their independent status for conferences - Pitt in the Big East and Penn State in the Big Ten - the annual showdown was among the great year-end rivalries in college football - Ohio State-Michigan, Oklahoma-Nebraska, USC-UCLA.

Penn State and Pitt have played 96 times, with the Nittany Lions holding a 50-42 edge, with four ties. As in any true rivalry there have been epic battles and upsets but always, high intensity.

No one seems to be able to put a definitive finger on why the schools have not played since 2000, but the vast interest generated by the announcement points to a simple fact: the rivalry should be renewed permanently, rather than sporadically.