What If? Hypothetical Neutral-Field Matchups for Future Penn State Games

By Dan Vecellio on August 19, 2017 at 8:00 am
Jun 3, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; A view of AT&T stadium home of the Dallas Cowboys during the game between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Jerome Miron - USA Today

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News came down this week that Notre Dame and Wisconsin, two schools with nostalgic home stadiums, would be playing a two-game series in 2020 and 2021 at the neutral sites of Lambeau Field and Soldier Field. It's awful and it sucks.

However, the neutral site game is a money-maker for perennial top-ranked teams. Wisconsin just finished up another "home-and-home" with LSU. Michigan has come south to play Alabama in Dallas. The number of high-profile early-season games taking place in professional stadiums is growing and if Penn State continues to be a top-10 team year in and year out, you can expect them to unfortunately (or fortunately, if that's your view) play in one of these non-conference, neutral-site games down the road.

So, here are four potential neutral-site matchups that would be "fun" to watch. 

1. Penn state vs. Oklahoma - at&t stadium, Dallas, texas

AT&T is the Mecca of the neutral site game stadiums. It's hosts the Advocare Classic during the first week of each season dating back to 2009 and is the site of this season's Michigan-Florida Week 1 matchup. Two Big Ten teams have matched up with SEC power Alabama in the game's history (Michigan, 2012; Wisconsin, 2015), but it is certainly within Big 12 country. A rematch of the 1986 Orange Bowl would be a fresh matchup for each team as well as the game and venue itself. 

2. penn state vs. LSU - mercedes-benz stadium, atlanta, georgia

There have been rumors for at least half a decade that the Lions and Tigers were attempting to set up a series after their Capital One Bowl matchup in 2010. Why not in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game? The opening season game regularly puts together massive matchups (Alabama vs. Florida State headlines this year). LSU hasn't played in the game since 2010, when they defeated North Carolina. Penn State would be the first Big Ten team to play in the game as the game normally attempts to match up ACC and SEC squads, with Boise State and West Virginia being the game's two exceptions in the past.

3. penn state vs. florida state - bank of america stadium, charlotte, north carolina

BELK.

Charlotte is the newest host of a special attraction, opening-week game with the Belk Kickoff Game. North Carolina State and South Carolina will play this year in the second edition of the game. Future games have a diverse set of matchups, from Tennessee/West Virginia to Wake Forest/Notre Dame to East Carolina/Appalachian State. A Penn State-Florida State matchup, a rematch of the 2006 Orange Bowl, would be marquee enough to catapult this burgeoning special attraction to the likes of the Cowboys Classic and the Chik-Fil-A games. 

4. penn state vs. oregon - fargodome, fargo, north dakota

This one would just be fun. What site would be more neutral for a matchup between Big Ten and Pac-12 powers than Fargo? The people there love their college football as was evidenced by how they turned out for College Gameday when Lee Corso and friends came by for a North Dakota St. game. Sure, the venue only seats 19,000, but imagine the raucous atmosphere for those who were able to get inside. A game inside the Fargodome might be the closest thing you can get to a traditional atmosphere in a markedly non-traditional type of setup. 

Got any other ideas? Spill out all of your imagination in the comments.

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