That’s right, with the addition of Nebraska, the Big Ten has twelve members. Gone are the days of hiding the “ten that is actually 11″ thing Escher-like in the conference logo.
Gone are the days of my being able to refer to this league as the Big Eleven Ten (I will be sticking with Big Tweleveten until they expand again). Gone are the days of Penn State being the figurative new kid on the Big Ten block. But when the focus is returned to this upcoming season, what isn’t gone are the days of Penn State having an early loss. In fact, the Blue and White may have doubled-down on that trend as the Nittany Lions face Iowa and Alabama in their first six games. The end of the schedule doesn’t get any easier, with a home game against Nebraska followed by consecutive road trips to Columbus and Madison.
September 3 - Indiana State
Let’s be honest…This is merely a tune-up. The Indiana State Fighting Trees won’t mount any real opposition; instead, they will be happy to take a Happy Valley seal-clubbing, and return to Terre Haute check in hand.
September 10 – Alabama
Last year in Tuscaloosa, this was the Ghosts of College Football’s past. Back in the days when Penn State was still independent, a JoePa vs. Bear Bryant contest was a regular on the schedule. Not to mention the Nittany Lions routinely faced an SEC team in their usual bowl game.
What do Elvis and Bear Bryant have in common? Most Alabamians think they are both still alive.
This year in Happy Valley, the Penn State faithful will remember how they were outclassed at Bryant-Denny Stadium. This will be one of those games where if you see just the final score, you will know the winner. If the final score is 12-7, you know Penn State won. But, if the final is 43-6, you know that was an Alabama victory.
September 17 – @ Temple
Once again, Temple will face the Nittany Lion buzzsaw. Once again, they will set a record for losses to a Joe Paterno-led team (27). Once again, this will just continue to put the in-state rival from Philadelphia in sole possession of the distinction of suffering the most losses to a Paterno-led team.
September 24 – Eastern Michigan
For the second week in a row, the Nittany Lion buzzsaw will slice through the flesh of a MAC sacrificial lamb. Eastern Michigan is ranked dead-last in the Dubsism pre-season rankings; look for this game to be over by half-time.
October 1 – @ Indiana
Now for the big streak Penn State has since joining the Big Twelevten. Penn State is 14-0 vs. the Poosiers in conference play. This streak will continue, just like Amy Winehouse’s current consecutive Days-Not-Alive streak.
October 8 – Iowa
For the second year in a row, this game is the Rolaids Bowl. Now with the current conference re-alignment as resultant schedule, Iowa has replaced Michigan as one of two “red circles of seething hate” on my Penn State schedule (of course, the Ohio State Suckeyes being the other). How does this game get such a distinction? Because (deleted) Iowa always finds a (deleted) way to win this (deleted) game. This is why the Fawkeyes are 8-1 in their last nine games against the Nittany Lions.
October 15 – Purdue
Purdue represents the second conference foe in Indiana toward which I am officially dismissive. Gone are the salad days of Drew Brees, Kyle Orton, and uh….give me a minute…you know, that other Purdue Toiletmaker that didn’t suck. You know, tall guy, always wore a shirt…never mind. The point is Purdue has had a few years to forget what a historic death-pit they’ve found Happy Valley to be, but they should be getting a reminder about 12:30.
October 22 – @ Northwestern
Honestly, Northwestern scares me when Penn State has to go to Evanston. The Blue and White have only ever lost three times to the Wildcats; two of those occurring in Illinois. While Northwestern has improved to the point where the Mildcats are no longer everybody’s homecoming patsy, they tend to have surprises at home.
October 29 – Illinois
REVENGE GAME: Thanks to the quirks of scheduling in a growing conference, the Fighting Saliva get to return to the scene of the Homecoming crime they committed last year. I want to drink beer out of Ron Zook’s hollowed-out skull. Somebody needs to make that happen.
Michigan supporters simply won’t support any further slippage of this program; its “bowl or bust” for Rodriguez, and like Zook, he isn’t likely to get a helpful outcome in State College.
November 12 – Nebraska
This is first conference match between Penn State and the Cornsuckers who used some B.S. pity party (“poor Tom Osborne hasn’t won a title yet” even though he NEVER deserved one…) to rob the Nittany Lions of a National Championship in 1995.
This also marks the “make or break” stage of the schedule; this is the first of three straight games against Top-20 pre-season opponents, and the only one at home. I may need to save some of those Rolaids from the Iowa game.
November 19 – @ Ohio State
There is a formula for beating the Ohio State Penitentary University; Joe Paterno has proven it, but hasn’t been able to pull it off in a couple of years. The calculus remains the same; if you want to see a Penn State win, you want to see a plodding, ball-control type game with stiff defense on both sides, something akin to watching two sloths using a rock to break open a coconut. If that happens, the blue sloth wins by a field goal.
November 25 – @ Wisconsin
I’d love to say Penn State gets to this game with the idea that a win in Madison means a trip to the first Big Ten championship game, but I’m not that drunk yet. Honesty, I think the Nittany Lions roll into Camp Randall stadium eyeing one those 25 Big Twelevten/SEC New Year’s Day bowls.