This year, Penn State will begin its season in a relatively rare fashion in college football — at least for the Power Five teams.
The Nittany Lions have a challenging and somewhat unique start to their schedule, hitting the road in two of their first three games of the 2022 season. The last time Penn State Football happened was in 2014.
However, only one was (by definition) a real road game, meaning the game was played on the opposing team’s court. In 2014, the Nittany Lions flew across the pond to start their season against the UCF in Dublin, Ireland. Then they traveled to Piscataway in the third week to face Rutgers.
When was the last time Penn State opened its season with two of the first three games you played were real road games? Well, you’d have to go back to 1978 to find the last time that happened, according to the College Football Almanac calendar.
Penn State traveled to Temple in the first game of that season where they won 10-7, and in week three they headed to Columbus where they would shut out the Buckeyes, 19-0. In fact, Nittany Lions finished the 1978 regular season undefeated, so fingers crossed that history is repeating itself.
No. 1 Pennsylvania would unfortunately fall into second place in Alabama that season’s Sugar Bowl, which would have become the programs’ first national title.
Penn State is just one of two Big Ten programs to have road matches in two of their first three games of the season. Rutgers is another, with the Scarlett Knights traveling to Boston College in week one and Temple Temple in week three.
Penn State and Rutgers are two of only eight Power Five teams to have real road matches in two of their first three games in 2022. The others are Louisville, University of North Carolina, TCU, Kansas, Mississippi State and Colorado.
Florida and Georgia will also play two of their first three away games, but one of each is not a true road game, but rather a neutral location match.
Last year, only seven of the Power Five teams — Michigan State, Purdue, Boston College, Baylor, Utah, Stanford and South Carolina — started their season with two real on-road games in their first three games. In fact, Stanford had two real games on the road as well as a neutral site game in their first three games, so they didn’t play a home game until week four.
So what Penn State Football had in front of them to start the 2022 season isn’t something that happens often in college football. What makes it even more special is that in both of these road matches, they’ll be facing Power Five competitors, while quite a few players I’ve included this year and the last time I’ve had one of those two road games are against a Group of Five team.
Are the Nittany Lions ready for the test?