College Football 2011: 10 Opponents Penn State Football Fans Would Pay To See
With BYU possibly linked to discussion on a future series with Penn State, it is time to do some wishful thinking in terms of other future opponents Penn State fans would like to see appear on the regular-season schedule.
For the purposes of this list, schools that are already scheduled to play Penn State in the future were excluded. That means no Alabama, Rutgers, Navy, Syracuse, Virginia or Temple. And of course, we'll leave out all Big Ten Conference foes for obvious reasons.
So read through this list and start to dream of the possibilities, however realistic they may or may not be. Then, feel free to add on to this list with your own dream schedules for non-conference games.
1. Pittsburgh Panthers
All-Time Series: Penn State leads 50-42-4
Last Meeting: 2000, Pittsburgh wins 12-0
We'll get this one out of the way now and allow you to move on in a moment, but you cannot put together a list of teams you would like to see Penn State play in a non-conference matchup and not at least touch on Pittsburgh.
The series has been stale for over a decade now and there are no signs of the in-state rivalry being renewed anytime soon. New Pitt coach Todd Graham has caused the annual debate on the resumption of the series by commenting last week that he would like to see the two schools get together, coincidentally making the statement while on Penn State's campus for a media event supporting high school football in Pennsylvania.
The debate will continue moving forward but anyone who says they would not be excited to see a natural rivalry blossom once again is probably kidding themselves. Pittsburgh was Penn State's biggest rival for the better part of a century and they have not had a legitimate and recognized rival since parting ways with the western Pennsylvania program.
2. Miami Hurricanes
All-Time Series: Penn State leads 7-6
Last Meeting: 2001, Miami wins 33-7
The last time these two programs got together happened to be one of the most emotional games in Beaver Stadium. Adam Taliaferro led the Nittany Lions on to the field but a dominant Miami Hurricanes team, poised for a national championship in Week 1, crashed the party under the updated Beaver Stadium in prime time.
But there are other reasons to hope this series continues.
The connection between the two schools is obviously highlighted by the 1987 Fiesta Bowl, but Miami's new head coach Al Golden is a former Penn State player under Joe Paterno. The Hurricanes are looking to rebound and restore the national pride in the program and could pose a threat to Penn State in any year. Also, having a chance to make a trip to Miami is certainly something few fans will complain about.
The Hurricanes wrap up a two-year series with Ohio State this season.
3. West Virginia Mountaineers
All-Time Series: Penn State leads 48-9-2
Last Meeting: 1992, Penn State wins 40-26
Another one of the "Big East" rivalries that has been effectively put on ice since Penn State joined the Big Ten is the series with West Virginia, who has developed into an annual Big East contender. From 1947 to 1992 these two programs played on an annual basis with the Nittany Lions winning just about every time.
The playing field may have leveled off a bit since the last time these two schools played and the regional rivalry that would go with it make this a series that would seem to get fans excited on both sides.
4. Maryland Terrapins
All-Time Series: Penn State leads 35-1-1
Last Meeting: 1993, Penn State wins 70-7
The numbers do not lie. Penn State dominated this series when it was played. Maryland's lone win came in 1961 by a 21-17 final. Penn State has a large following in Maryland and in the region as the two Mason-Dixon Line states have not seen their top football programs take the field since Penn State joined the Big Ten.
The 1993 Penn State might still be scoring on the woeful Terrapins if the clock never expired.
Maryland may still be a ways away from competing against top ACC opponents, as well as Penn State, but the regional interest would make this a game worth checking out whether it is played in State College or College Park, or on FedEx Field.
5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
All-Time Series: Series tied 9-9-1
Last Meeting: 2007, Penn State wins 31-10
This is a no-brainer. Everybody wants to take a crack at Notre Dame, and why not? The Fighting Irish boast about their history and tradition and they draw attention wherever they go. We all know how Joe Paterno feels about Notre Dame's history and tradition.
Notre Dame and Penn State are similar in fashion sense and values, and each is one of the biggest names in college football. They played a two-game series recently in 2006 and 2007 but a longer series between these two is something everybody could get on board and support.
6. USC Trojans
All-Time Series: USC leads 5-4
Last Meeting: 2009 (Rose Bowl), USC wins 38-24
Penn State and USC have played nine games, including home-and-home games, a pair of Rose Bowls and some games played in Giants Stadium. Each of the last three meetings between the two schools has been played on neutral ground and it has been since 1994 that a game was played in either school's home stadium.
USC recently played a home-and-home series with Ohio State and wraps up a similar deal with Minnesota this season. This leads us to believe that USC is open to the idea of traveling into Big Ten territory, which the Trojans did in each of Penn State's first two seasons in the Big Ten with trips to Beaver Stadium. Penn State made the trip to USC in 1990 and 1991.
7. Oklahoma Sooners
All-Time Series: Oklahoma leads 2-0
Last Meeting: 1986 (Orange Bowl), Oklahoma wins 25-10
Penn State won a national championship during the 1986 season, by knocking off Miami in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. But a year before that the Nittany Lions were upset by Oklahoma in the 1986 Orange Bowl for what would have been a national championship. The two have not met since.
Penn State and Oklahoma have only met twice on the field, both in bowl games. The Sooners are one of the top programs in the country and have a tremendous amount of history behind them. It's not often that Penn State gets to play a Big 12 team either, and Oklahoma is one of two on this list.
Plus, it would be cool to have a chance to see the Sooner Schooner.
8. Texas Longhorns
All-Time Series: Penn State leads 3-2
Last Meeting: 1997 (Fiesta Bowl), Penn State wins 38-15
Just like Oklahoma, Texas has a wealth of history and tradition behind its program. To be able to sign on to a series with Texas would be a rarity for any Big Ten school. Penn State last played the Longhorns in the regular season with a home-and-home series in 1989 and 1990. Three other bowl games have been played between the two, including the 1997 Fiesta Bowl Penn State victory.
Ohio State played a home-and-home series with Texas a few years back, so like USC, the Longhorns have shown a willingness to travel into the Big Ten footprint. The Longhorns are also launching their own sports network this year in partnership with ESPN and could benefit from some high-profile matchups outside of the Big 12 schedule.
Would Penn State be an option worth paying for by Texas fans? Perhaps.
9. Virginia Tech Hokies
All-Time Series: No previous meetings
Penn State has played a number of teams along the East Coast but it has never played one of the top programs over the past 20 years: Virginia Tech.
The Hokies have become one of the top programs in the ACC since leaving the Big East and are always one of the top teams in the country when it comes to defense and special teams. Penn State has a future series with Virginia lined up but a matchup with Virginia Tech would likely be more interesting given the Hokies' current place in the ACC and national college football picture.
Virginia Tech has scheduled some quality out-of-conference games over the recent years, including USC and Boise State at FedEx Field. A home-and-home series would give Penn State fans a chance to experience Blacksburg, Virginia and the atmosphere of a Virginia Tech home game, but a neutral site game would be a huge draw at FedEx Field if a neutral site game is the only way to work out a meeting between the two schools.
10. Oregon Ducks
All-Time Series: Penn State leads 3-1
Last Meeting: 1995 (Rose Bowl), Penn State wins 38-20
Try this one on for size. Penn State and their classic, plain uniforms facing off with the most bizarre uniform combinations in college football. If nothing else, it would be a great advertising campaign for Nike, showing that they can serve both mindsets in college football adequately.
Penn State and Oregon would be a complete clash of styles
Penn State hosted Oregon State in a one-game deal a couple of seasons ago in a matchup that was created for TV. Getting Oregon to buy in to the same kind of deal would be more difficult. Getting the Ducks on a neutral field would be more likely, but a home-and-home would of course be the most ideal situation from a fan perspective.
Oregon's Autzen Stadium is among the loudest in the country—almost as loud as the uniforms.
What Teams Would You Add?
So which teams would you add to this list? Florida State, who Penn State has faced three times in bowl games but never during the regular season? South Carolina, who has not been on the schedule since 1940 and 1941?
Or perhaps you're thinking about some more previous rivals that have long been removed from Penn State's schedule, such as Boston College? What about one of the armed forces? Navy is on the future schedule, which is why they were not included in this list, but what about Army? Or Air Force?
Add on to this list with your ideas and leave a note why in the comments section.