The Penn State Nittany Lions have partial schedules for every season up to 2017 posted on the team's official website. While there are sure to be changes made to the conference part of the schedule due to realignment, there are several holes that need to be filled by non-conference opponents.
The Nittany Lions have had a recent history of playing a weak non-conference schedule. Other than two games with Alabama in 2010 and 2011 and a matchup with Oregon State in 2008, some of the opponents have not been of the highest quality.
Youngstown State, Coastal Carolina, Eastern Michigan and Indiana State are just a few of the teams Penn State has faced in the past five years.
With change happening all over college football in regards to conference alignment, it seems that now would be the perfect time to lock down some interesting opponents for the future. Penn State should think about scheduling tough, big-name opponents that will bring respect to both the Big Ten Conference and the program.
Below are three teams that would excite many fans, create a great early-season game and bring in more revenue for the Nittany Lions.
The Nittany Lions and the Gators have met just three times in history and never in the regular season. Florida holds a 3-0 advantage, winning the 1962 Gator Bowl, the 1998 Florida Citrus Bowl and the 2011 Outback Bowl.
Despite the lack of history, this would be a great matchup of two schools rich in football tradition.
Florida is a highly respected team that looks good on anyone's schedule as it traditionally starts the year ranked in the AP poll. Ticket sales for this one would no doubt be through the roof as fans of both schools are among the most passionate in all of college football.
While the Gators rarely have to worry about strength of schedule due to playing in the SEC, a look at some of their future non-conference opponents shows some room for improvement.
This is your classic East meets West, contrast in styles game. USC would bring the flash and speed of the Pac-12 against the hard-nosed, blue-collar style of the Big Ten. Penn State is 4-5 all time against the Trojans, losing the most recent matchup in the 2009 Rose Bowl.
Scheduling a game against the Trojans would make sense for the Nittany Lions considering that fellow conference teams have been playing schools from the west coast and have more scheduled in the future.
Seven Big Ten teams currently have upcoming games scheduled with teams from the Pac-12.
USC has one of the largest fanbases in all the land and would certainly be able to bring a large contingent if the game were played at Beaver Stadium.
The last time this two teams met during the regular season was in the 2000 Kickoff Classic in New Jersey. The Trojans dominated the Nittany Lions 29-5 in that one.
West Virginia Mountaineers
This was a classic college football matchup back in the day. The Mountaineers and the Nittany Lions have met a total of 59 times, dating back to 1904, but they haven't met since 1992.
Penn State holds the overall lead in the series at 48-9-2.
Geographically, the game makes sense as fans from either school could easily travel to the other. With only 179 miles separating the two schools, West Virginia is actually closer than any of Penn State's conference foes.
Aside from being an old rivalry, the fact that West Virginia is now a member of the Big 12 creates an intriguing matchup between two major conferences.
The Mountaineers would be a great yearly game for the Nittany Lions and one that should be strongly considered for at least a two-year series.