Penn State football: What does revised 2022 schedule mean for Nittany Lions?

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Penn State football: What does revised 2022 schedule mean for Nittany Lions?

David Eckert15 days
Article written by:David EckertDavid Eckert

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Penn State head coach James Franklin. (Credit: BWI/Ryan Snyder)

Penn State Nittany Lions football saw its 2022 schedule tweaked by the Big Ten this week, with those changes officially announced Wednesday afternoon.

Here’s a look at Penn State’s new schedule:

Sept. 3 – AT Purdue
Sept. 10 – Ohio
Sept. 17 – AT Auburn
Sept. 24 – Central Michigan
Oct. 1 – Northwestern
Oct. 8 – BYE WEEK
Oct. 15 – AT Michigan
Oct 22 – Minnesota
Oct. 29 – Ohio State
Nov. 5 – AT Indiana
Nov. 12 – Maryland
Nov. 19 – AT Rutgers
Nov. 26 – Michigan State

And here’s Penn State’s old schedule, for reference:

Sept. 3 – AT Purdue
Sept. 10 – Ohio
Sept. 17 – AT Auburn
Sept. 24 – Central Michigan
Oct. 1 – Ohio State
Oct. 8 – AT Michigan
Oct. 15 – Illinois
Oct. 22 – BYE WEEK
Oct. 29 – Michigan State
Nov. 5 – AT Indiana
Nov. 12 – Maryland
Nov. 19 – Minnesota
Nov. 26 – AT Rutgers

What do we make of these changes for the Nittany Lions? Here are some thoughts:

1. Penn State’s October just became more managable

On the original schedule, Penn State’s month of October was scary — and no, that’s not because of anything to do with Halloween.

The Nittany Lions were slated to take on Ohio State on October 1, before heading to Ann Arbor to play defending Big Ten champs Michigan the next week.

The altered slate grants the Nittany Lions a bit of relief there. Penn State now plays Michigan on October 15, Minnesota a week later and Ohio State on October 29.

It’s still far from an easy month, but it’s much more manageable for James Franklin and company without those two enormous games back-to-back.

Since Franklin became Penn State’s head coach, the Nittany Lions have only beaten ranked opponents in back-to-back weeks once. That came in 2019, when the Lions won at Iowa and bested Michigan at home the next week.

With that in mind, this is a big change for the Lions.

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2. Would PSU rather play Northwestern or Illinois?

The new schedule replaces an October 15 home game against Illinois with an October 1 clash with Northwestern.

The Illini, of course, dealt Penn State its most egregious loss of the 2021 season. Illinois ran the ball 67 times for 357 yards, and came away with a 20-18 victory in nine overtimes at Beaver Stadium.

Illinois finished last season at 4-5 in conference play, a very respectable mark for Bret Bielema in his first season as head coach.

Northwestern, meanwhile, followed up its appearance in the Big Ten title game with a 1-8 conference record.

Certainly, it’s impossible to predict how these two teams will look next season. But for now, it seems like a trade-off Penn State will take.

3. Nittany Lions face end of season challenge

The run-in on Penn State’s original schedule couldn’t have looked much easier.

The Nittany Lions would have finished their season with Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota and Rutgers.

In the revised version, Penn State now must take on Michigan State in the final week of the season.

Depending on what the Nittany Lions are playing for, that could be a huge game. On one hand, placing it later on in the season makes for some very interesting storylines. However, Penn State and its coaching staff might prefer to play that game when its players are fresher.

In the first version of the schedule, the Nittany Lions were slated to take on the Spartans after a bye week.