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Penn State Football: No Prime-Time TV For Alabama Game in Beaver Stadium

by on May 13, 2011 5:36 AM

Penn State’s Whitehouse game against Alabama scheduled for Sept. 10 in Beaver Stadium won’t be played in the darkness of night – or on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, for that matter.

The Big Ten Conference on Thursday announced its schedule of 2011 games that will be played in prime-time in September and October and will be telecast by Disney.

And Penn State is not on the list.

So, figure that the Nittany Lions-Crimson Tide game will be nationally televised, although in the 3:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. time slot. But why?

The networks opted to telecast the Michigan-Notre Dame game, also being played Sept. 10, which will kick off at 8 p.m. on ESPN in the first-ever night game in Michigan Stadium.

Penn State will still play one night-time game that will be televised -- but that contest will not be on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. Instead, that contest – the exact game still to be determined – will appear on the Big Ten Network.

TV CONFERENCE CALL

All this news came about after the Big Ten announced which seven of its evening games will be televised on the Disney family of networks. Typically, ESPN typically televises six Big Ten prime-time games per year, reported Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com, but a request for a seventh game was made and granted.

Only six Big Ten teams made the prime-time cut: Wisconsin (four games), Ohio State (two, both after the Buckeyes’ myriad coach and player suspensions have tentatively ended), Nebraska (its first two Big Ten games), Michigan (one), Michigan State (one) and Purdue (one).

Not making the ABC/ESPN prime-time schedule, along with Penn State, were: Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Northwestern and Minnesota.

Notre Dame, an independent whose home games are telecast by NBC, made the list twice: on the road against Michigan and Purdue.

All of the Big Ten prime-time games on the ABC/ESPN network are in September and October, since the conference does not allow any regular season night-time starts in November or December.

The ban on Big Ten prime-time games in November precludes Penn State’s marquee Big Ten home game against Nebraska (Nov. 12) and attractive away games at Ohio State (19th) and Wisconsin (26th) from having late kick-offs.

Possible Penn State games that could be shifted to prime time and be televised on the Big Ten Network include away games at Indiana (Oct. 1) and Northwestern (Oct. 22), and home games against Iowa (Oct. 8), Purdue (Oct. 15) and (Oct. 29). If the Big Ten opts to make a Penn State away game a prime-time contest, there will not be a night-time game in Beaver Stadium in 2011.

It’s unlikely Penn State's non-conference games against Indiana State, Temple or Eastern Michigan would be Big Ten prime-time contests. Pairing Penn State with a Big Ten foe gives the Big Ten two conference schools on one telecast, important since it is committed to showing each team prime-time on the Big Ten Network at least once in 2011.

And speaking of schedules, Penn State announced on Thursday that the 2012 Blue-White Game will be played in Beaver Stadium on April 21. No word on whether that will be prime-time or not.

BIG TEN PRIME-TIME ON DISNEY

Here’s a look at the Big Ten’s ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 prime-time schedule:

Sept. 1 -- UNLV at Wisconsin, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Sept. 10 --Notre Dame at Michigan, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Oct. 1 -- Nebraska at Wisconsin, 8 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN; Notre Dame at Purdue, 8 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2

Oct. 8 -- Ohio State at Nebraska, 8 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2

Oct. 22 -- Wisconsin at Michigan State, 8 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2

Oct. 29 -- Wisconsin at Ohio State, 8 p.m. ET, ABC or ESPN or ESPN2

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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