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The Odd Rhythm of Penn State’s 2019 Football Schedule

by on June 30, 2019 6:15 PM

How weird is Penn State’s football schedule in 2019?

Weird enough, unconventional enough and widely variable enough that it may very well be a challenge for a very young Nittany squad to get into a rhythm.

Momentum? Well, that could a different story.

It’s almost a given the Nittany Lions will start 2-0, opening at home against Idaho and Buffalo, and it would not be too surprising if quarterback Sean Clifford quickly settles in and they went 4-0 out of the gate.

(Although Pitt, in my book, is a pick ’em.)

Then there’s Boilermakers on Homecoming — a dangerous combo, if you an alum or underclassman. Especially if the other guy has Moore.

If…that’s the battle cry for 2019. If James Franklin can truly get his untested and possibly volatile squad to concentrate on going 1-0 week to week, and not get caught up in the uncontrollable. If…

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. First, let’s start with the basics of the schedule, which begins in 62 days.

Then, we’ll get into how goofy and off-beat it all is, meaning Franklin may need a GPS to help guide him and his staff in navigating their young squad week to week:

Saturday, Aug. 31 — Idaho, home, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 7 — Buffalo, home, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 14 — Pitt, home, noon

Saturday, Sept. 21 — BYE WEEK

Friday, Sept. 27 — at Maryland, Maryland Stadium, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 5 — Purdue, home (Homecoming), noon

Saturday, Oct. 12 — at Iowa, Kinnick Stadium

Saturday, Oct. 19 — Michigan, home

Saturday, Oct. 26 — at Michigan State, Spartan Stadium

Saturday, Nov. 2 — BYE WEEK

Saturday, Nov. 9 — at Minnesota, TCF Bank Stadium

Saturday, Nov. 16 — Indiana, home

Saturday, Nov. 23 — at Ohio State, The Horseshoe

Saturday, Nov. 30 — Rutgers, home

Now, let’s take a look at the myriad foibles of the 2019 Penn State slate, which includes:

The first-ever football game against Idaho.

The 100th and last — at least for awhile — football game against the University of Pittsburgh. (PSU leads the series, 52-43-4, with an 18-6 mark at home.)

Two bye weeks, a rare occurrence happening throughout college football in 2019. (Penn State had two bye weeks in 2013 under Bill O’Brien, losing 44-24 at Indiana after the first respite and  infamously falling 63-14 at Ohio State after the second one.)

In his career as a head coach, Franklin is 5-5 after bye weeks, against some exceedingly difficult opponents. (In 2019, mot so much: The Nittany Lions face Maryland and Minnesota after their weeks off.)

Franklin was 3-1 after bye weeks at Vanderbilt, losing only at Alabama, with coming-of-bye wins on the road at Missouri and Florida, and at home against a No 15 Georgia team.

At Penn State, Franklin is 2-4 after bye weeks, going 1-1 against Ohio State, 1-2 vs. Michigan and 0-1 against Michigan State.

Just one away game in the first 41 days of the season. And that’s on a Friday night against Maryland. Capital One Field is just 198 miles away from Beaver Stadium; the last time PSU was at Franklin’s old stomping grounds was in 2017, when it stomped the Terps 66-3.

Four different, circadian-rhythm-busting kickoff times in the first four games. (Oh, for the days of the 1 o’clock kick.)

The aforementioned Friday night game vs. Maryland, lucky Penn State’s second Big Ten TV contract-satisfying Friday Night lights appearance in a row, having won 63-24 at Illinois in 2018. The things you do to get a $54 million check from Jim Delany.

A 15-day stretch at Iowa and Michigan State sandwiched around a home contest vs. Michigan. That stretch will go a long way in determining whether Franklin improves his underwhelming 3-12 record against the Big Ten’s Big Three — Ohio State, Michigan and MSU.

A football-busting road finish that James would wish on his best bros, the Jonas Brothers. Of Penn State’s final eight games in 2019, three are on the road and just three are at home. That includes a four-game string where three of Penn State’s games are on the road (MSU, Minnesota and Ohio State) and only one (Indiana) is in Beaver Stadium.

And we haven’t even mentioned the return of Josh Gattis, now the Michigan offensive-coordinator, to Happy Valley. There will be a White-Out to greet him.

Or that Iowa is wearing special gold jerseys with wings, gold pants, gold socks and gold facemasks for its game against Penn State.

Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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