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Penn State Football: Virginia Tech Series Light At End Of Uneventful Scheduling Tunnel

by on January 14, 2015 2:00 PM

Penn State and Virginia Tech announced on Tuesday that the Nittany Lion football team will travel to Blacksburg on Sept. 12, 2020 and the Hokies will visit State College on Sept. 6, 2025.

The games were originally scheduled for Sept. 17, 2022 at Lane Stadium and Sept. 16, 2023 in Beaver Stadium. So the date change news is interesting and noteworthy, but it's not going to set ratings through the roof.

Moving forward there are 16 games out of conference already scheduled for the 2016 season and beyond. The biggest openings in the "immediate" future that are yet to be announced are in 2019 -- with Pittsburgh the only team on the schedule so far.

What is there to look forward to? Not a whole lot.

Certainly, the Pitt series starting in in Pittsburgh in 2016 and then back in State College in 2017 provides fans with a fair amount of excitement. But that rivalry is going to take a lot of effort to get back to where it once was. That's not to say those games won't be fun to watch, but they probably won't have the same bite as they did in the 1970s and 80s.

The rest of the scheduled games are run of the mill opponents. 

In fairness to Penn State, the Nittany Lions are still a bit of work from having marquee games that are anything more than a novelty. Sure, Penn State could schedule Alabama, but as the program recovers from sanctions it's hard to imagine that's the best use of anyone's time. Alabama wins, Penn State loses and everyone gets to pretend it would be competitive for about a quarter.

So in that light Penn State's schedule over the next few years reflects where the program is at right now. In this rebuilding phase, wins are more important than simply getting big names to play against. Maybe you don't agree with that scheduling philosophy, but that's how it's going to be.

Once Penn State gets over that hump though, the Nittany Lions shouldn't be afraid to put in a good early season test or two. If the college football playoff doesn't expand, wins will matter and so will strength of schedule. Nothing against Kent State, but that kind of game won't be the resume booster come late December when the playoff field is selected.

Penn State has had opportunities out there with an LSU series that almost happened and in fact there was an Alabama season opener that fell through, so it's premature to say Penn State won't schedule some marquee games down the road.

It's not premature to say that Penn State should have a marquee game in mind as it comes time to fill out the remaining future schedules. The Nittany Lions won't be in program recovery mode forever and the schedule shouldn't reflect that mindset forever either.

Future Schedules: 

2016: 

  • Kent State
  • @ Pitt
  • Temple

2017:

  • Akron
  • Pitt
  • Georgia State

2018:

  • Appalachian State
  • @ Pitt
  • Kent State 

2019:

  • Pitt

2020: 

  • @ Virginia Tech
  • @ Syracuse 

2021:

  • Syracuse

2022: TBA

2023:

  • West Virginia

2024:

  • @ West Virginia 

2025:

  • Virginia Tech

 

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Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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