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Is Penn State’s Future Schedule “Unrivaled?”

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Big Ten reveals interim schedules with no protected rivals for the Nittany Lions

The Nittany Lions promote their program as “unrivaled,” and the Big Ten took them up on their word last week as they announced the Nittany Lions would not have any protected games.


The Big Ten protected the following games:


● Michigan vs. Ohio State

● Michigan vs. Michigan State

● Southern Cal vs. UCLA

● Minnesota vs. Wisconsin

● Minnesota vs. Iowa

● Purdue vs. Indiana

● Purdue vs. Illinois

● Illinois vs. Northwestern

● Iowa vs. Nebraska

● Iowa vs. Wisconsin

● Rutgers vs. Maryland


Most of these games are self-explanatory why the conference is protecting. Others are simply to

protect money games for programs that don’t have the same cache as the national brands.

The last one; Maryland vs. Rutgers, I cannot even fathom the logic of why they were protected

when games such as Minnesota vs. Michigan, Illinois vs. Ohio State, and Penn State vs.

Michigan State weren’t. With many scheduling questions having arisen for Nittany Lions fans, here are three key takeaways.


#1 Protecting Brands and Money Games
Big Ten Championship on December 4, 2021. (Zoey Holmstrom) via Flickr

I began to allude to this in the introduction. The reason the Big Ten got the contract it did from NBC, CBS, and FOX was the inventory of games it had to offer. With the only constraints being the number of conference games to be played, it needed to ensure to the networks that the marquee games would be protected.


For smaller programs, it ensured the marquee midwestern rivalries will be played, with the

biggest casualty being The Little Brown Jug game between Minnesota and Michigan.

While this impacts Penn State financially, the protecting of the Penn State brand is not having a

gauntlet of a schedule playing consecutively national brands because they are protected. While it is great to play Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Southern Cal, you

do not want that all in a row.


#2 Ohio State is a Casualty
By Steven Miller Via Flickr

Since Penn State joined the conference in 1993, the Nittany Lions have engaged in “The Border

War” with Ohio State every season and after 2024 it will go into hiatus for an undetermined

amount of time.


The battles with Ohio State have had some great iconic moments for the Nittany Lions between

Joe Paterno notching his 324th win to pass “Bear” Bryant, Tamba Hali’s sack on Troy Smith

in 2005 to secure Penn State’s first “White Out” win, to Grant Haley’s mad dash off of a Marcus

Allen blocked field in 2016.


The rivalry has led to heartbreak with the collapse at the Horseshoe in 2017, where Nittany

Lions fans took solace in Urban Meyer calling it one of his greatest games he coached in. The

following season, Penn State endured heartbreak at home collapsing in the fourth quarter

leading 26-14 and allowed Ohio State to walk away with a 27-26 fueling the James Franklin

“Good to Great to Elite” rant.


For Penn State, maybe like how Michigan enjoyed a brief sabbatical during 2020’s COVID-19

pandemic, Penn State can take a breather and get refocused and reassess themselves from the

constant frustration and figure out why they can’t crack the Buckeyes.


#3 Looking into the future expansion
Photo by: Scott Enyeart/Neon Tommy via Flickr

With Pac-12 insider John Canzano reporting that the Pac-12 will receive a media deal that will

beat the Big XII deal, that hopefully will lead to stability for the current conference and the seven

ACC schools trying to crack the “Grant of Rights” clause locking them together until 2036, this is

one you have to look further down the road on.


I feel what former Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren was trying to achieve in his vision for

the Big Ten, that I do feel current commissioner Tony Petitti will carry out is the vision of an

across the nation megaconference.


The growing disparity in monies that the Big Ten and SEC receive versus the rest of the Power

5 will continue to grow. I don’t see how those conferences will remain economically viable when

you have the Big Ten and SEC that anticipate paying out nearly three times at the peak of their

contracts.


For Penn State fans, potentially are they the East Coast anchor when that time arrives? Who

from the ACC will they absorb when 2036 arrives? I feel that is the long-term planning by the

conference when they take assets from the ACC that Penn State will anchor that pod of the

conference and then at that time they may be rivaled once again.



About the Writer:

Kyle Golik is a college football enthusiast and contributor to Mike Farrell Sports. Kyle is a Pittsburgh native and a Point Park University alum. He has worked in Information Technology for 12 years, is a collector of music and sports memorabilia. Kyle enjoys Big Ten and Notre Dame football in the autumn. You can read more of his content HERE


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