It is finally here, the week Penn State fans have been waiting for. Week one against Indiana on Saturday, October 24th, at 3:30 PM ET. First, the season was postponed. Then, the Big Ten said there would not be football at all in the Fall. Finally, Big Ten schools were given a nine-game schedule to start this Saturday. There are no bye weeks built-in and the ninth game is the Big Ten Championship on December 19th. The Nittany Lions rank No. 8 in the country without even playing a snap, so let’s see a Penn State schedule preview.
Penn State Schedule Preview
The Nittany Lions open the 2020 season this weekend at Indiana and then clash with Ohio State at home on Halloween. What could have been an electric White Out on Halloween will now be the Buckeyes playing in a very empty Beaver Stadium. Oh well, Penn State Football is back and it will still be great for fans to watch at home.
@ Indiana – 3:30 PM ET; FS1
vs. Ohio State – 7:30 PM ET; ABC
vs. Michigan State
Big Ten Championship Game (East vs. West)
While fans like to jump ahead to the Ohio State game and when Penn State plays Michigan, they need to remember Head Coach James Franklin’s mantra. Only focus on the game of the week. Obviously, this Penn State schedule preview isn’t going to only focus on Indiana, but it will start there.
The Nittany Lions travel to Bloomington, Indiana for the first game of the season. Last year Penn State just beat Indiana, 34-27. The year before that was a 33-28 win for the Nittany Lions. Neither game was easy and fans shouldn’t expect this meeting to be different. There are no “warm-up” games this season and almost every Big Ten team can be difficult. This will also be the first game for new Offensive Coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca’s offensive scheme. Hopefully, there won’t be major kinks to work out, but that is not likely.
Sean Clifford is now a redshirt junior with a new offensive coordinator that should highlight his arm. Whereas Indiana’s quarterback, Peyton Ramsey, that played very well against the Nittany Lions the last two years, is now at Northwestern. Redshirt sophomore Michael Penix Jr. will be behind center for the Hoosiers this season after injuries kept him sidelined for the majority of the last two. Further, both teams will be without a major piece on defense. Penn State’s starting linebacker Micah Parsons opted out of the 2020 season and Indiana’s senior safety, Marcelino Ball, suffered an ACL injury. Parsons accounted for seven total tackles, one pass defended, and a forced fumble against Indiana last season. Look for junior Jesse Luketa to have a big day for the Nittany Lions. Penn State needs to open strong on Saturday and remember the 2020 season will be like nothing they have ever seen before.
Penn State vs. Ohio State is the most anticipated game on the schedule for the Nittany Lions in 2020 and fans won’t have to wait long to see it. Penn State will take on the Buckeyes the second week of the season at home in Beaver Stadium on Halloween. This game has been very close in the last few seasons. It was decided by nine points in 2019, one point in 2018 and 2017, and three points in 2016. Penn State was only on the winning side of this match up one time in those years, but it has been a close, hard-fought game on both sides each time. A game that was poised to be an electric White Out will be different this year, but it still has College Football Playoff and Big Ten Championship implications.
Doesn’t Happen Often
Yes, this is a strange category, but this game needs to be highlighted. Penn State is playing Nebraska this season for the first time since 2017. The Nittany Lions have to travel to Lincoln, Nebraska on November 14th. Lincoln, Nebraska in November averages a high of 49 degrees and a low of 29 degrees. Not the most ideal weather. Penn State won the matchup 56-44 in 2017 but lost the previous meeting in 2013 by three points. The Cornhuskers haven’t had a winning season since 2016, but that doesn’t mean this game should be taken lightly.
The Final Two
Rutgers and Michigan State round out the end of the regular all-Big Ten season for Penn State. Rutgers shouldn’t be a challenge unless something very unforeseen happens from now until then, but the Spartans could go either way. The Nittany Lions won in 2019, but that was a long time coming. Michigan State is always a cold game in November. This year will be cold but in December. Playing a regular-season game in December in Happy Valley will be something new for Penn State and there could very well be quite a bit of snow. Anything can happen.