Penn State Nittany Lions 2016 Football Schedule and Analysis

Saquon Barkley and the Nittany Lions will welcome Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan State to Beaver Stadium this fall

Much of the offseason discussion about James Franklin seems to suggest the 2017 season will be an important one for him as he enters his third season as Penn State’s head coach. After two straight seven-win seasons since taking over the program while also working to rebuild the depth across the board with a renewed recruiting strategy, fans are itching to see Penn State take a noticeable step forward this fall.


Related: Penn State Nittany Lions 2016 Spring Football Preview


Penn State continues to rebuild an offensive line that has been embarrassed far more often than not the last two seasons, and a new starting quarterback steps in to run things on the field with a rising sophomore running back in Saquon Barkley continuing to amaze. A new offensive coordinator brings new optimism as well, but how quickly can everything come together? The schedule throws some good obstacles in the way in the first month of the season with a road trip to Pittsburgh and another to Michigan with a home game against a feisty Temple in the middle.


The season has yet to start, and already the pressure is on for Franklin and his Nittany Lions.


2016 Penn State Nittany Lions Schedule


Bye: Week 7


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 3

3:30 PM ET


University Park, PA

Penn State opens the new season at home against Kent State. The Nittany Lions own a 4-0 record against the Golden Flashes and have pitched two straight shutouts in the series. This should be a favorable matchup for Penn State with Kent State coming off a three-win season.


Sept. 10

12 PM ET


Pittsburgh, PA

The in-state rivalry with Pitt will be renewed for the first time since 2000, although it feels a lot longer than that. The first in a four-game series opens on the road and should be a showdown of two bright running backs in Saquon Barkley and Pitt’s James Conner (hopefully).


Sept. 17

12 PM ET


University Park, PA

Believe it or not, this is a revenge game for Penn State. The Owls ambushed a weak offensive line last year and sacked Christian Hackenberg 10 times, but this Temple defense has lost some key players and Penn State may not crumble quite as easily this time. Temple has never won at Penn State.

4. Sept, 24 Ann Arbor, MI

Big Ten begins in The Big House. The last trip to Ann Arbor resulted in a bitter loss for Penn State, and the Wolverines have been surging under the leadership of Jim Harbaugh. It feels like a tough spot for Penn State as the Wolverines play their fourth straight home game to open the season.


Oct. 1

University Park, PA

After a road trip to Michigan, Penn State returns home to play for the Governor’s Bell trophy against Minnesota. Offense could be lacking though, as both teams ranked in the bottom three of the Big Ten in offense in 2015.


Oct. 8

12 PM ET

University Park, PA

Before getting to the bye week Penn State must defend its home field against its newest division rival to the south, Maryland. The Terrapins created some drama before kickoff last time and got to celebrate on their way out of town. Penn State won’t want a repeat of that.


Oct. 22



University Park, PA

It’s the game of the year on the Penn State home schedule as the Buckeyes come to town. Ohio State got the benefit of some controversial calls the last time it paid a visit, and Penn State took the eventual national champions to overtime. Can Penn State snap a four-game losing streak to Ohio State?

9. Oct. 29 West Lafayette, IN

A week after hosting the Buckeyes, Penn State hits the road for what should be a relatively much easier game against Purdue. The Boilermakers should not be too much of a threat regardless of the state of the Nittany Lions.


Nov. 5

7:30 PM ET


University Park, PA

Iowa has a history of giving Penn State some frustrating moments over the years. If the Hawkeyes’ defense plays the way it did in 2015 that could continue this November in Beaver Stadium.

11. Nov. 12 Bloomington, IN

Penn State has won two games against the Hoosiers since being tripped up in blowout fashion in 2013 in Bloomington. Penn State’s defense has clamped down on the Hoosiers each of the past two seasons, limiting Indiana to just seven points each time.


Nov. 19



Piscataway, NJ

Rutgers has developed a little bit of a knack for playing some Big Ten teams tougher at home compared to on the road. Penn State knows that well given its last trip to Rutgers two years ago. Expect another lively crowd, but what will each team be looking like in mid-November?

13. Nov. 26 University Park, PA

Michigan State will be coming off a home game against Ohio State. Could the Big Ten East be on the line once again for the Spartans? Perhaps the bigger question is how much will what should be a physical game against the Buckeyes take out of Sparty, if anything?


— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also writes for, and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.

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