The Penn State football team has not played in the Washington, D.C. area since a game against Maryland in 1993. The Nittany Lions will finally return to the area on November 20, 2010 to play a Big Ten game against the Indiana Hoosiers at FedEx Field, which is the home to the Washington Redskins.
Indiana released news of the playing site change from Bloomington, Indiana to Prince George's County in Maryland on Wednesday. Hoosier head coach Bill Lynch jumped at the opportunity to bring in $3 Million for moving the game, as well as to open recruiting opportunities in the D.C. region.
Putting Indiana's interests aside, this is also a wonderful opportunity for the PSU football program.
One of the most obvious benefits for Penn State is that FedEx Field is much closer to Happy Valley than Indiana. This means easier travel for the team as well as fans.
In addition to more fans travelling from Pennsylvania to go see the Lions play, Penn State will also have a much larger draw from the D.C. area than Indiana will. Penn State has a very strong alumni base in Washington as many students go on to the nation's capital after graduation.
The Nittany Lions also have 22 players on their current roster from either Maryland, Virginia, or Delaware. These players should draw family, friends, and their supporters from High School to the game on the PSU side.
FedEx field can hold up to 91,000 fans. As a part of the deal to move the stadium, Indiana agreed to sell at least 7,000 tickets for the game. That leaves a lot of seats that likely would go mostly to Penn State fans. Thus the scheduled road game could end up being more of a home game for PSU.
Finally, getting the chance to play in an NFL stadium will be great for the Penn State players. The team will not only get to play at a field they will be striving to get the chance to play on again in the NFL, but should be performing in front of a lot of NFL scouts, at least from the Redskins.
While PSU players don't usually have a trouble getting noticed by NFL teams, playing at the home of the Redskins will certainly garner more attention than playing at the home of the Hoosiers.
FedEx field also hosted a college football game in 2004 between Virginia Tech and USC which drew 91,665 fans. The match-up between Penn State and Indiana will not carry nearly as much hype, but expect the two teams to still draw a large audience, particularly if PSU can continue to have good success this season and next.