Penn State Football: 3 Games to Look Forward to Most in 2013

Barry Leonard@@barryleonardjrAnalyst IIIJanuary 18, 2013

Penn State Football: 3 Games to Look Forward to Most in 2013

0 of 3

    With the excitement of a successful 2012 season, Penn State fans can begin to look towards next season. Though there are still scholarship reductions and postseason bans to deal with, but that doesn't mean players and fans alike can't get excited for what is coming down the road.

    The Nittany Lions finished 8-4 last season despite being thrown directly into the middle of adversity and a media firestorm due to the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

    In the face of everything that happened at Penn State over the last year-and-a-half, the future is bright. Head coach Bill O'Brien reaffirmed his commitment to the school and has lined up a 24th-ranked recruiting class, according to ESPN Recruiting Nation.

    National signing day is now just a few weeks away, which means that spring practice will be here before you know it.

    Believe it or not, the start of the regular season is just seven short months away.

    Looking at the 2013 schedule, there is a good mix of traditional games that bring a lot of excitement as well as a renewal of some old rivalries.

    While every Penn State game is worth looking forward to, there are three in particular that stand out on the schedule.

1. Syracuse

1 of 3

    When: Saturday, August 31

    Where: MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, N.J.

    Last Meeting: 2009

    Penn State 28 Syracuse 7

    This one is more about the timing than it is about the actual opponent. Sure, Syracuse is an old rival, but the fact that this is the season opener is what makes it worth looking forward to.

    The first game is always an exciting time for fans. All of the offseason projecting is finally put aside and the action finally returns to the field. 2013 should be particularly exciting for Penn State fans due to the success of the team last season under first-year head coach Bill O'Brien.

    There's no doubt that one of the biggest debates heading into next season will be who is going to start at quarterback. Steven Bench, Tyler Ferguson and Christian Hackenberg are all in the mix to be under center when the Nittany Lions take the field in New Jersey.

    Syracuse is coming off a 2012 season that saw it go 8-5 and defeat West Virginia 38-14 in the Pinstripe Bowl.

    While the game may not draw much national attention, Penn State fans will be eagerly waiting the start of a brand new season.

2. Michigan

2 of 3

    When: Saturday, October 12

    Where: Beaver Stadium; State College, PA 

    Last Meeting: 2010

    Penn State 41 Michigan 31

    The 2013 season brings the return of the Michigan Wolverines to Beaver Stadium. The two teams played each other every year from1993-2002, with Michigan winning seven of the 10 games.

    After a three-year hiatus, the matchup began again in 2005 and went until 2010 whenever the Big Ten went to divisions. 

    Though Michigan dominated Penn State for years, winning nine straight, the Nittany Lions currently hold a three-game-winning streak in the series.

    No matter the regular-season records of either team, Michigan is always a popular draw at Beaver Stadium, bringing a large throng of traveling fans with it.

    This game falls in the middle of the season, when both teams should be rounding into form and will represent the first home Big Ten test of the year.

    As of now, there is no set date for the Wolverines to return to Happy Valley after this game. The Nittany Lions will travel to Ann Arbor in 2014.

3. Ohio State

3 of 3

    When: Saturday, October 26

    Where: Ohio Stadium; Columbus, OH

    Last Meeting: 2012  

    Penn State 23 Ohio State 35

    In their next game after hosting Michigan, the Nittany Lions get to travel to Columbus for a game that could have an effect on who wins the Leaders Division. Though Penn State is not eligible to play in the Big Ten Championship game, it can still win the regular-season division title.

    The Ohio State Buckeyes will likely be ranked very high in the national poll and will feature Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Braxton Miller. This will definitely be a game for Penn State fans to get excited about. There's a better-than-good chance it will be played in front of a national audience.

    What better way to prove that Penn State football is not dead than by beating a top-ranked team on the road on national television?

    Historically, the series has been close. The teams have met 28 times, including every year since 1993. Ohio State holds a15-13 advantage.

    Penn State was victorious in its last trip to the Horseshoe, a 20-14 win in 2011 just two weeks after the abrupt firing of head coach Joe Paterno.

    The Nittany Lions will look to avenge a 35-23 home loss last season in which Miller put up 277 total yards and three touchdowns.