CBS Sports predicts Penn State’s permanent opponents in new Big Ten schedule
The Big Ten is a year away from expanding with the additions of USC and UCLA in 2024, and the work on figuring out how to satisfy the new conference schedule is currently underway. The details on exactly how the Big Ten will roll out its new conference schedule approach remains to be seen, but the days of division play appear to be fading quickly. But how does the Big Ten set up a conference schedule with just nine games to work with and keep everyone happy?
One concept that appears to be a hot talking point is the idea of permanent rivals for each Big Ten team. This would, in theory, protect each Big Ten school’s top rivalries on an annual basis while allowing for the flexibility of allowing each school to play every other member of the conference during a player’s typical college career.
So, who would be Penn State’s permanent rivals?
CBS Sports writer Tom Fornelli laid out the predictions of the Big Ten’s permanent rivals keeping in mind historic rivalries, geography, and what works best for television. Through this exhausting practice, Fornelli came up with Ohio State, Rutgers, and Maryland as Penn State’s permanent rivals. And that may not be an unlikely scenario for the Nittany Lions.
Ohio State has been the only Big Ten team Penn State has played every year since joining the conference in 1993. Michigan State had been an annual matchup for the Nittany Lions as well, but the brief Legends and Leaders era of division play brought an end to that as Penn State and the Spartans were placed in opposite divisions before being reunited in the East Division following the expansion with Maryland and Rutgers. While Ohio State and Michigan have the rivalry in the Big Ten, it makes sense to have an annual meeting between the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions as bordering blueblood programs that each tend to draw well on TV.
And while Penn State fans may have loved to see an annual game with USC or Nebraska thrown in the mix, the geography of Maryland and Rutgers makes sense. When Maryland and Rutgers were added to the conference, it was sold by some as a move to balance out the eastern part of the conference where Penn State was stranded by itself. Having a regional flavor with Rutgers, Maryland and Penn State may be too obvious a move for the Big Ten to ignore regardless of how some fans may feel about it.
But it would be nice if Penn State had just one of those eastern rivalries marked as a permanent rivalry. But sorting through the entire conference and pairing teams up in permanent rivalries has its challenges, and tying Penn State, Maryland, and Rutgers together in a trio is an easy choice for the Big Ten. Fornelli did pair Rutgers and Maryland as permanent rivals as well, which again makes sense.
Sure, it’d be nice to have USC, Nebraska, and Ohio State as Penn State’s permanent rivals, but getting lumped in with Maryland and Rutgers, historically, could benefit Penn State every year.
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