College Football Analysis: 7 Ideal Non-Conference Opponents for Penn State
As we set off in to the vast unknown of college football's off-season with no practices to cover, few press conference quotes to tide us over and more until the summer, it is time to rekindle some annual discussions with regard to Penn State football. Today John Tecce shares his wish list of non-conference opponents he would like to see on the football schedule. We invite you to add on to this list with your own non-conference wish-list in the comments section below.
Last meeting: 2005 Orange Bowl. Penn State 26, Florida State 23 (3 OT)
Interesting fact: Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden coached a combined 762 games for these respective programs, yet only faced each other twice.
[Editors Note: Paterno and Bowden only faced twice while Boden was at Florida State. Paterno owned a 6-0 record against Bowden when Bowden was head coach at West Virginia between 1970 and 1975]
The Replacing A Legend Bowl would certainly draw national interest with Jimbo Fisher and Bill O’Brien squaring off in the shadows of the two winningest coaches in FBS history.
All-time series: 2-0, OU
Last meeting: 1986 Orange Bowl. Oklahoma 25, Penn State 10
Interesting fact: The last time these programs met, Oklahoma beat an undefeated Penn State for the 1985 national championship a year before Penn State would take down Miami for their second national title.
The Sooners are one of the few college football blue bloods that Penn State has never defeated. Under Bob Stoops, Oklahoma has been a fixture in BCS bowls and won a national championship in 2000. The match-up to watch in this series would be Oklahoma’s quarterback, a position where they have found great success under Stoops with two Heisman winners in the past 10 years, against Penn State’s traditionally stodgy defense.
All-time series: 3-2, PSU
Last meeting: 1997 Fiesta Bowl. Penn State 38, Texas 15 [Games of Our Lives]
Interesting fact: Texas joins Penn State in the top five of all-time victories among FBS programs.
Had the rumors of Texas joining the Big Ten a few summers ago come true, we might have actually seen this series come to fruition. I assume that Texas would have a talent advantage over Penn State, so Bill O’Brien would have to rely on the belief that everything is bigger in Texas. By that logic, Texas’ team would shrink upon leaving the state, giving Penn State an even bigger home field advantage.
All-time series: 1-0, PSU
Last meeting: 1983 Sugar Bowl. Penn State 27, Georgia 23 [Games of Our Lives]
Interesting fact: These two titans of college football have met just once, with Joe Paterno finally winning his first national championship at the expense of the Bulldogs in the 1983 Sugar Bowl.
Tell me it would not be cool to see Penn State take the field “between the hedges” in Athens, one of college football’s most iconic scenes. Georgia rarely leaves the southeast for non-conference games, suggesting a healthy fear of Big Ten brawn. Well, okay, so maybe they have won 9 of their last 10 against the Big Ten, but playing them north of the Mason-Dixon Line might help.
All-time series: 2-0, PSU
Last meeting: 2010 Capital One Bowl. Penn State 19, LSU 17
Interesting fact: Penn State defeated LSU in the 1974 Orange Bowl to cap off a perfect 1973 season.
Points would come at a minimum between these two teams, as either LSU or Penn State, and usually both, have finished in the top 15 in total defense the past nine years. This series would feature two of college football’s most iconic venues known especially for their electric atmospheres when the sun goes down. Plus, I bet Les Miles would love to try a few blades of Beaver Stadium’s famed turf.
Editor's Note: Lets pause and relive that 2010 Capital One Bowl, shall we?
All-time series: 3-1, PSU
Last meeting: 1995 Rose Bowl. Penn State 35, Oregon 20 [Games of Our Lives]
Interesting fact: Many rumors had Oregon head coach Chip Kelly heading to Penn State to replace Joe Paterno. Okay, so maybe that is not a fact per say, but it’s close enough.
This match-up between Nike’s top two schools may very well occur when the Big Ten and Pac-12 face off in the coming years, and I really hope it does. The contrast is evident in every fiber of the series. Old school vs. new school. Black shoes and basic blues vs. flashy and cutting edge. Defense vs. offense. East Coast vs. West Coast. Nittany Lion push-ups vs. a duck on a motorcycle. What’s not to like? I wonder who Phil Knight would root for.
All-Time Series: These two teams have never met in football.
Interesting fact: Hokies head coach Frank Beamer took over as the longest-tenured FBS head coach after Joe Paterno’s firing last November.
If Penn State had remained an independent, I would expect this game to have grown into a rivalry over the course of the past 15 years. Virginia Tech has become the class of the ACC over that time period while becoming a major recruiting rival for Penn State. This series also intrigues given the schools’ similarities, such as how both programs have found success in recent years with strong defenses and athletic quarterbacks. They both also happen to be located in the middle of nowhere, so maybe we can name this the Isolation Bowl.
Get more great Penn State football analysis over at Nittany Lions Den.