The Penn State Nittany Lions, like other Big Ten schools, have a history of scheduling non-conference games against weaker, smaller schools. Coastal Carolina, Indiana State and Youngstown State are just a few examples of Penn State’s opponents over the years. However, that trend seems to be quickly changing, as there is now a lot of excitement surrounding Penn State’s future schedules.
News broke recently that Penn State has been in communication with LSU. The schools are apparently trying to schedule a game at a neutral during the 2020 season. That game would mark just the third meeting between the schools and would certainly generate a lot of excitement.
Since taking over the program last year, head coach Bill O’Brien has been aggressive in the scheduling of future opponents. The Nittany Lions currently have meetings with West Virginia, Virginia Tech and in-state rival Pittsburgh in the upcoming years.
Penn State has Pittsburgh on its schedule from 2016-19. Virginia Tech is listed for 2022 and 2023, while the Mountaineers and Nittany Lions will get together for a home-and-home series in 2023 and 2024.
Next season, Penn State has a big game scheduled in Ireland in the Croke Park Classic against Central Florida. While the Knights are not necessarily a marquee opponent, the game will generate some hype and could be used as a recruiting tool.
Aside from the upcoming non-conference schedule, the Nittany Lions will see two new opponents on their schedule beginning in 2014 when Maryland and Rutgers join the Big Ten.
Of course, with all of this better competition in the future comes the risk of more losses. However, that’s a chance worth taking. The human voters and computers never seem to be in favor of schools from the power conferences playing games against “cupcake” opponents. Moving forward in college football, strength of schedule is going to be an important factor in determining who gets to play for a championship.
It’s good to see Penn State take a proactive approach regarding future schedules. The better matchups will garner more publicity, raise ticket sales and help in recruiting. Look for more big-name opponents to find themselves on the Nittany Lions’ schedule more often.
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