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Penn State Football: O’Brien Eyes Alabama, Southern Cal and Stanford

by on May 08, 2012 3:30 PM

HAZLETON, Pa. — Bill O’Brien has his sights set on making his thumbprint on Penn State’s future football schedules.
 
He said last week that he would like to see Penn State’s series with Pitt, set for a mini-renewal in 2016-17, to be revived on a long-term basis.
 
And here on Tuesday as part of the ongoing Coaches Caravan, O'Brien revealed he has even bigger plans for the Nittany Lions’ non-Big Ten schedule.
 
“For instance, we could open the season maybe at a neutral site or maybe at Beaver Stadium – that’s not set yet,” he told a room full of 216 supporters.
 
“That would be against, obviously, a major college power -- like an Alabama, like a Southern Cal, like a Stanford.”
 
O’Brien said that Penn State’s non-conference schedule is set through the next three seasons. Wiggle room begins, he said, with the 2015 schedule.
 
“I will say this – and nothing is set in stone – what we are trying to do is have a marquee game every year, pretty much starting in ’15,” O’Brien said.
 
The first-year Penn State coach indicated that playing at such neutral sites as the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field in Landover, Md., and MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., are attractive options.
 
Penn State’s last regular-season game at a neutral site that was in 2010, when the Nittany Lions defeated Indiana, 41-24, at FedEx Field in what was a home game for the Hoosiers. It was a decidedly pro-Penn State crowd of 78,790 – well below the stadium’s capacity of 91,704.
 
Prior to that, Penn State’s most recent in-season neutral-site game was in 2000, when the Nittany Lions lost 29-5 to Southern Cal in an Aug. 27 season-opener in the Meadowlands.
 
O’Brien said he thinks an early-season big-time contest is good for his players and Penn State followers alike.
 
“That would give our guys something to shoot for in the summertime and that’s something our fans would like,” he said.
 
Penn State played a home-and-home series with Alabama – both losses -- in 2010-11. Its 2008 and 2009 non-conference schedules were bereft of any marquee names, while in 2006-07 the Nittany Lions had a home-and-home series with Notre Dame.
 
In 2013, Penn State is scheduled to face Syracuse in a neutral-site contest, at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands. But that’s hardly a big-name opponent. Syracuse is 27-57 over the past seven seasons and last beat Penn State in 1988.
 
Penn State’s non-conference for the next three seasons severely lacks any star power, and breaks down as follows:
 
2012 – Ohio University, at Virginia, Navy, Temple.
 
2013 – Syracuse (MetLife Stadium), Eastern Michigan Stadium, Virginia, Kent State.
 
2014 – Temple, Akron, at Rutgers, UMass.
 
2015 – at Temple, Buffalo, Rutgers. There is a possibility that the Big Ten Conference could go to a nine-game slate in 2015.

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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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