Penn State Nittany Lions 2017 Football Schedule and Analysis

The defending Big Ten champions will welcome Pitt, Nebraska and Michigan to Beaver Stadium this fall

Coming off the heels of a surprising run to the Big Ten championship and an appearance in the Rose Bowl, the expectations have been raised for Penn State in 2017 from every angle you look. With that being the case, Penn State will now have to face going through a season that could see the Nittany Lions as the favorite in every game they play, with the exception of a road game at Ohio State.


Related: Penn State Nittany Lions 2017 Spring Football Preview


The higher expectations for the defending Big Ten champions have created plenty of buzz for the new season, and this year’s schedule features some good home games for fans. Two of those will be revenge games against the only two teams to hand Penn State a loss in the regular season last year, and they both happen to be against teams Penn State fans would love to see beaten on the field.


If Penn State is going to make the leap into the College Football Playoff, the schedule sets up fairly well to make the case at the end of the year if this team takes care of things on the field.


2017 Penn State Nittany Lions Schedule


Bye: Week 7


Wk Opp. Date Location

Sept. 2

University Park, PA

The 2017 season should open with a bang on offense as Penn State hosts Akron in the season opener. If Penn State can’t afford to give key players an early rest in this game, there should be reason for some concerns, but the Nittany Lions should be able to put this one away with ease.


Sept. 9

University Park, PA

This game is almost certain to be circled on the Penn State schedule. After losing on the road in western Pennsylvania in the long-awaited revival of this in-state series, Penn State looks to pick up some revenge in its stadium this season against the tricky Panthers of the ACC. Pitt could be in some rebuilding on offense, so Penn State could catch the Panthers at a good time.


Sept. 16

University Park, PA

Penn State and Georgia State worked together for some satellite camps in recent years, but now that friendship is put aside for the first meeting with the Panthers of the Sun Belt Conference. Georgia State shouldn’t be much of a problem for Penn State, as the Nittany Lions should have no problem getting into Big Ten play with a winning record.

4. Sept. 23 Iowa City, IA

Penn State has had the upper hand on Iowa in recent meetings, but opening conference play in Kinnick Stadium is never going to be easy. Iowa is where Michigan’s dream season came crashing down last season and the Hawkeyes’ defense is always to be respected.


Sept. 30

University Park, PA

Penn State’s first Big Ten home game will be in division play against Indiana. A brand-new head coach means the Hoosiers could have some new looks to show off, but those new twists will already have been shown off in a season opener against Ohio State. Penn State should be able to defend their home turf against an Indiana program still on a bit of a roller-coaster ride as a program.


Oct. 7

Evanston, IL

Before getting into the bye week, Penn State travels to Northwestern. Pat Fitzgerald’s team has developed a knack for being a problem for even the best teams in the Big Ten, so getting out of Evanston with a win should not come easily.


Oct. 21

University Park, PA

The bye week comes at a terrific time for the Nittany Lions. After getting through the first half of its schedule, Penn State gets a week off to regroup and fine-tune in preparation for another revenge game at home. This time it will be Michigan coming to State College. Michigan obliterated Penn State last season, but the Nittany Lions should be in better shape to play the Wolverines this time around.

9. Oct. 28 Columbus, GA

A week after taking on Michigan, Penn State must hit the road for what could be the game of the year in the Big Ten East Division against Ohio State. Penn State has traditionally struggled in Columbus but a win is not totally out of reach. Penn State stunned the Buckeyes last season, so this is a revenge game for Ohio State. The winner could potentially take control of the division heading into November.


Nov. 4

East Lansing, MI

Penn State is back on the road for a second straight time in division play. Michigan State may have been a big disappointment last season, but Mark Dantonio’s Spartans should never be taken for granted. This could be a tricky spot for Penn State after two huge games against Michigan and Ohio State. Getting out of this stretch with a 2-1 mark is essential, but a loss in this game could really hurt.

11. Nov. 11 University Park, PA

After a key three-game stretch and back-to-back road games, Penn State should have a much easier time at home against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have a long way to go to be competitive in the Big Ten and by November it is possible Rutgers will be well on its way to limping across the finish line of the season.


Nov. 18

University Park, PA

Nebraska returns to Beaver Stadium for a division crossover game. Could it possibly be a preview of the Big Ten Championship Game? The stakes could be high for each team’s potential division hopes in the next-to-last game of the regular season, and Nebraska has won each game in the series since joining the Big Ten.

13. Nov. 25 College Park, MD

Penn State will close out the regular season by playing its first game in Maryland’s Byrd Stadium since 1993 (they played in Baltimore in 2014). Maryland appears to be a team on the rise, but how the Terrapins look at the end of the 2017 season makes them a wild card right now. There could be some upset potential, although Penn State still appears to be the better overall team by a considerable margin for now.


— 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 contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.

Event Date: 
Wednesday, April 5, 2017 - 19:18

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