Penn State Football

Penn State Football: 5 Thoughts on Big Ten Schedule Release

The Big Ten conference released the future conference matchups Thursday afternoon, including for Penn State Football.

With the new format, and new venues with four conference teams out west, here are five thoughts on Penn State’s future schedules:

1. The Land Grant Trophy is dead.

The biggest casualty of the new Big Ten schedule is that Penn State’s annual ‘rivalry’ with Michigan State over the “most beautiful trophy in all of sports” is dead.

The Nittany Lions will play Michigan State in 2025, 2027, and 2028, but the annual “Land Grant Trophy” game will die with the new scheduling format for the Big Ten.

2. Non-conference strength of schedule may not matter anymore for Big Ten schools.

Every way you look at the new schedules for the Big Ten, the difficulty of the schedules jump off of the page.

Based on current rankings, Penn State only has one season (2025) where the Nittany Lions would not face three teams ranked in the top 10. While the team makeups and rankings will change over the years, there are a lot of good teams in the new Big Ten and every year the schedules will be packed with tough matchups.


3. Penn State’s home schedule is a roller coaster between years.

Penn State’s home schedule varies year by year in terms of fan appeal.

In 2024, Penn State has a fantastic home slate with Ohio State, Washington, and UCLA to go along with Maryland and Illinois. In 2025, however, the home slate is rather underwhelming with Indiana, Nebraska, Northwestern, and Oregon (although I am looking forward to this matchup with Oregon).

Again in 2026, Penn State gets USC at home, but the rest of Wisconsin, Rutgers, Minnesota, and Purdue is a bit underwhelming.

But, 2028 on the other hand again, includes enticing matchups with Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA, and Iowa, along with Indiana.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Penn State’s season tickets take a hit in 2025 and 2026 (not by a lot but possibly a noticeable difference) based on the appeal of the home schedule.

4. With the 12-team playoff format, a tougher schedule is okay.

A reminder for anyone looking at the difficulty of the new Big Ten, the playoff will expand to 12 teams beginning with the first year of the new schedule in 2024.

With the expanded playoff, it is no longer necessary to get through the schedule unbeaten or with only one loss to have a shot at the playoff.

While the schedule does create challenges, a 10-2 team will realistically have a good shot at making the 12 team field, especially with the strength of schedule that the new Big Ten will create.

5. There are some very cool “home and home” matchups that the new Big Ten creates.

A few years ago, I would have begged for “home and home” matchups between Penn State and Oregon, Washington, UCLA, and USC.

Now, with the new Big Ten format, Penn State and the rest of the Big Ten will have the opportunity to trade home games with the old Pac-12 schools.

This will create opportunities for fans of both traditional Big Ten schools and the new Big Ten schools to see the awesome atmospheres the new Big Ten will offer.

Personally, I am looking forward to Penn State’s trip to USC in 2024, UCLA in 2025, Washington in 2026, and Oregon in 2027 to check out the atmosphere at the new Big Ten schools.

The new Big Ten schedule presents exciting opportunities and challenges for Penn State over the next five years.

Whether this schedule will stay intact remains to be seen as Clemson and Florida State, among other realignments could turn this schedule on its head over the next few years.


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About Author

Robert Casturo

Expertise: College Football, Penn State Football Education: Saint Vincent College, Penn State Law School Location: Washington, DC Experience: Robert Casturo has covered Penn State football for NittanyCentral since 2022. Casturo previously covered Penn State football through a social media presence (@PSU_FB_Thoughts on X) since 2019. Casturo earned his bachelor's degree from Saint Vincent College in 2015, where he was a punter for 1 season on the Saint Vincent College football team and worked in the athletic department for 2 years as a student manager. Casturo earned his JD from Penn State Law in 2018 where he was a senior editor of the Penn State Law Review.