STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WHTM) – In a week and a half the Penn State football season will kick off on Sept. 2 in Beaver Stadium against West Virginia.
Drew Allar will likely be Penn State’s new starting quarterback after four-year quarterback Sean Clifford’s graduation, however, there has been no official announcement. The Nittany Lions will be under the direction of 10th year head coach James Franklin.
This will be the Nittany Lions 130th football season. They ended last year going 11-2 overall and 7-2 in the Big Ten, capping their season with a Rose Bowl victory. This season, they have been ranked No. 7 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll.
Here’s a breakdown of each game this season:
Sept. 2 vs. West Virginia
The home opener will double as the helmet stripe game and will be the game to set the tone for the season.
In their entire 48-game history Penn State has only lost six times to the Mountaineers. However, the teams haven’t met in decades, last playing on Oct. 24, 1992. Obviously, both programs have changed a lot since then. Penn State is on a four-game winning streak for the series, but that doesn’t mean much in this case due to the time gap.
Last season the Big 12 opponent finished 5-7. This season they return under the leadership of head coach Neal Brown for his fifth year at the helm of the program. They have only one winning season under him which was in 2020 when they won the Liberty Bowl and went 6-4.
As of Aug. 21, Brown has not named the starting quarterback for the Mountaineers but noted that one has been chosen.
Sept. 9 vs. Delaware
In their second overall game Penn State will stay home to face Delaware for its THON Game. This will be the first time the two teams have ever met on the gridiron. The Blue Hens are members of the FCS Division I football where they play in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Last season Delaware went 8-5 overall and 4-4 in its conference. The Blue Hens lost in the second round of the FCS Championship to the No. 1 ranked South Dakota State.
Delaware has not named a starting quarterback for the upcoming season.
Sept. 16 at Illinois
Penn States first away game will also be its first in-conference matchup of the season.
The Fighting Illini finished 8-5 overall and 5-4 in the Big Ten conference last season. They played in the ReliaQuest Bowl where they lost to Mississippi State.
The last time Penn State faced Illinois was on Oct. 23 2021 which fans of both teams, and fans of college football in general, will never forget. The historic nine ovetime game set a record becoming the first and only FBS game in history to go nine overtimes.
Illinois upset the Lions with a 20-18 victory off a two-point conversion. The two teams haven’t met since, but both fan bases will be eager for a rematch.
Sept. 23 vs. Iowa
The iconic Penn State White Out game will take place when the Nittany Lions return home to take on the University of Iowa.
Iowa will be the first team that Penn State faces that was also ranked in the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll. The Hawkeyes made the list at No. 25 with 131 points.
Last season Iowa finished 8-5 overall and 5-4 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes shut out Kentucky 21-0 in the Transperfect Music City Bowl to cap off the year.
The last time Iowa and Penn State met was on Oct. 9, 2021 when the Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions by three points in a 23-20 victory. Currently, Iowa is on a two-game winning streak in the matchup.
Cade McNamara will lead the Hawkeyes at quarterback. The 6-1, 205-pound 2022 transfer was a two-year letterman at Michigan. McNamara played in 21 games with Michigan for 16 starts, going 13-3 as a starter, and helped lead the Wolverines to the 2021 Big Ten Championship.
McNamara replaces three-year starter Spencer Petras.
Sept. 30 at Northwestern
For its third Big Ten opponent Penn State will take on the Northwestern Wildcats. Last season the Wildcats only won one game, going 1-11 overall and 1-8 in the Big Ten. They tied for last place in the conference with Rutgers.
They faced the Nittany Lions on Oct. 1 and Penn State took the game 17-7.
Ben Bryant is projected to be the starting quarterback for Northwestern, but nothing official has been announced.
Oct. 14 vs. UMass
Penn State will return home to face another team that only had one win last season. The UMass Minutemen finished 1-11 last season.
Penn State and UMass have only played each other once on Sept. 20, 2014, when the Nittany Lions downed the Minutemen 48-7.
UMass named Taisun Phommachanh its starting quarterback on Aug. 21. The 6-4, 215-pound redshirt junior played two games at Georgia Tech in 2022 and 13 games across three seasons at Clemson prior to transferring to UMass.
Oct. 21 at Ohio State
The big one. Penn State hasn’t been able to defeat one of its biggest rivals, Ohio State, since 2016. The Nittany Lions are on a six-game losing streak in the contested series. The last away game against the Buckeyes that Penn State was able to win was in 2011.
This season Ohio State was ranked thirds in the AP Top 25 Preseason Poll, four places above Penn State. Last year the Buckeyes finished 11-2 overall and 8-1 in the Big Ten, second in the conference behind Michigan.
Ohio State has not confirmed a starting quarterback with a seemingly strong competition happening between Devin Brown and Kyle McCord. There has been some speculation that Ohio State may use a dual quarterback system for the beginning of the season.
Oct. 28 Penn State vs. Indiana
Penn State will return home for its last game of October to face Indiana. Indiana finished last season 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Big Ten.
The Nittany Lions defeated Indiana 45-14 last season in Indiana on Nov. 5.
The Hoosiers have a quarterback competition between Tayven Jackson and Brendan Sorsby. Head coach Tom Allen has noted that he will not publicly name a starter ahead of the opening game.
Nov. 4 at Maryland
Penn State will kick off the final stretch of the season facing Maryland.
The Terrapins finished 8-5 overall and 4-5 in the Big Ten conference in fourth place behind the Nittany Lions in the 2022 season.
Last season, Penn State shut out Maryland in a 30-0 victory on Nov. 12. All-time, the Nittany Lions are 38-3 against the Terrapins. The most recent loss for Penn State was in 2020.
Redshirt senior Taulia Tagovailoa will return in the starting quarterback position for Maryland this season. The list of program records Tagovailoa holds is a long one, including career completions and career passing yards. Tagovailoa is the key to Maryland’s offense.
Nov. 11 vs. Michigan
The second of the most anticipated games of the season will arrive in week ten at home for Stripe Out Day.
Michigan was ranked second behind Georgia in the AP Top 25 preseason poll. The Wolverines completed a perfect 9-0 season last year to lead the Big Ten. They took the Big Ten Championship with a 43-22 defeat over Purdue. Michigan fell in the semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl in the college football playoffs however to No. 3 TCU, 45-51.
Penn State last defeated Michigan in 2020. Last season, the Nittany Lions fell in Michigan 17-41. All time, Penn State is 10-16 against the Wolverines.
JJ McCarthy will more than likely return to the starting quarterback position for the Wolverines, but nothing official has been released. The 6-3, 202-pound junior was named Michigan’s offensive player of the year after playing in all 14 games with 13 starts. McCarthy went 208-f-322 on pass attempts for 2,719 yards with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. McCarthy also rushed for 306 yards and five touchdowns.
Nov. 18 vs. Rutgers
In its last home game of the season Penn State will take on Rutgers.
Rutgers finished tied for last place in the Big Ten at 4-8 overall and 1-8 in the conference last season. Penn State has only ever lost one game to Rutgers in their 27 meetings back in 1988. Last season, the Nittany Lions took the game against the Scarlet Knights 55-10 last season.
Gavin Wimsatt was named the starting quarterback for Rutgers on July 26. The 6-3, 225-pound junior played in eight games last season with six starts at quarterback. Wimsatt completed 65 passes for 757 yards and five touchdowns, rushing for 63 yards.
Nov. 24 at Michigan State
In the final game of the 2023 season Penn State will travel to Michigan State.
Michigan State finished last season 5-7 overall and 3-6 in the Big Ten. Last season, the Nittany Lions downed the Spartans 35-16. All-time, Penn State is 17-18 against Michigan State.
Head coach Mel Tucker has not announced a starting quarterback yet but noted that it is a “three-man race” between redshirt junior Noah Kim, redshirt freshman Katin Houser and true freshman Sam Leavitt.