Penn State Football: 8 Teams We'd Love To See on Future Nittany Lions Schedules
With the buzz surrounding Penn State's two-game series with old-time in-state rival Pittsburgh still spreading around the Keystone State you might be thinking about what other opponents you would like to see crop up on the schedule.
We recently took a peak at some teams fans would be likely to pay to see, including the Florida Gators, Miami Hurricanes and some other former rivals such as the Panthers, West Virginia and Maryland. But what about some opponents Penn State has never played?
Here are eight programs the Nittany Lions have never played (or last played before Paterno took over as head coach) that would make for a game worth getting excited about.
1. Virginia Tech Hokies
Penn State has played the Virginia Cavaliers seven times, owning a 5-2 record, and is no stranger to West Virginia (48-9-2 all time) but it has never played the Virginia Tech Hokies.
The Hokies have become one of the top football establishments in the ACC after getting to the top of the Big East before that. Had Penn State been a Big East member there would have been plenty of meetings between the two programs, but alas we enter 2011 with no regular-season or postseason matchups between the two.
If their paths happen to cross in postseason play this season it would include a meeting of the sport's top two active leaders in coaching wins with Joe Paterno and Frank Beamer. The last time that happened was during the 2005 Orange Bowl, when Paterno and Penn State outlasted Bobby Bowden's Florida State in triple overtime.
2. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Penn State has played schools from the state of Oklahoma just twice in its history, and both times have come against the Oklahoma Sooners in bowl play (Penn State is 0-2 against Oklahoma). While most Penn State fans would likely pay top dollar to see the Nittany Lions and Sooners square off again, a decent penny might be available for a game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
This season Oklahoma State should be competitive in conference play, although the Sooners are the Big 12 Conference favorites by many sources. The Cowboys play an offensive system that is heavily dependent on the pass so it could make for an interesting contrast of styles on the field.
3. South Carolina Gamecocks
The last time Penn State played South Carolina came in 1941, on the back end of a home-and-home series between the two schools. The Gamecocks are coming off their first SEC East championship season and with Steve Spurrier as the head coach there are plenty of reasons to be entertained by this potential matchup.
While the Gamecocks and Nittany Lions may not be destined to meet in the regular season there are a number of possibilities that could set up a bowl matchup between the two. Considering the number of bowl games that have both a Big Ten and an SEC tie-in, the two schools could meet for the first time since the 1940s in any January now.
4. Boise State Broncos
Boise State is one of those programs that have shown a desire to play big games, and they do not care where they have to travel. A year after playing Virginia Tech on FedEx Field, the Broncos will square off with Georgia in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome. Might they be interested in scheduling a trip to State College?
Consider this type of game a virtual long shot as Boise State has become more adamant about scheduling home-and-home series with schools during its recent upswing on the national stage. The chances that Penn State would agree to a trip to Boise State are slim at best, but a one-game contract on a neutral field might have some chance of being discussed if the likes of ESPN were to initiate the conversation.
Who wouldn't want to see those all-white uniforms play on Boise State's blue turf?
5. Utah Utes
Staying in the same region, another program Penn State has never played is Utah. The Utes are moving from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12 this season so perhaps a not-so-predictable Rose Bowl matchup could be in store down the line.
The Utes have played Big Ten opponents before, including Michigan, and they have played Pittsburgh before (in the Fiesta Bowl and this past season).
Penn State has played Utah State, however, edging the Aggies 16-7 in a home game in 1977.
6. North Carolina Tar Heels
The last (and only) time the Nittany Lions faced the North Carolina Tar Heels in football came in 1943. Penn State was defeated in that matchup on the road, 19-0.
Penn State is 17-2 all time against North Carolina State, with the most recent meeting coming in 1982. Since then Penn State has not played any of the top programs from the tobacco state (East Carolina and Coastal Carolina are the most recent opponents from the state).
If nothing else, to get a chance to play in a scenic environment like Chapel Hill would be reason enough to make a road trip, but North Carolina is generally a well-run athletic program even though football seems to be a weak spot when compared to other sports such as basketball and baseball.
7. Duke Blue Devils
Duke may be at the bottom of the rung among FBS football programs in the state, but Penn State and Duke have plenty of things in common when it comes to philosophy for academics and athletics.
Penn State has never played Duke. The Blue Devils are the only football program in North Carolina the Nittany Lions have never played. They have played North Carolina, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and East Carolina and have thrown in a game against Coastal Carolina for good measure.
8. Arkansas Razorbacks
There are not a whole lot of big-name programs Penn State has never played, especially from the SEC, but it has never played Arkansas.
The Razorbacks and Nittany Lions do have a significant tie in college football history. Richard Nixon, in 1969, declared that the winner of the Texas vs. Arkansas Cotton Bowl would be named the national champion of college football. Penn State ended its season without a loss and also without a championship, perhaps as a result of Nixon's declaration.
Penn State has also never played Mississippi or Mississippi State from the SEC.