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[Column] Penn State’s Home-And-Home Series With Temple Is A Mistake

Nope, this isn’t a joke. 

Penn State will play a home-and-home series with Temple during the 2026-27 seasons — likely leaving the Nittany Lions without a Power Five opponent for the 2026 slate when they travel to Philadelphia.

The way scheduling works out in the current Big Ten format, Penn State will play nine conference games (alternating between five home games in even years and four in odd years). Years when Penn State only has four conference home games means it would have to play three non-conference home games to reach its usual seven-game home slate. 

That leaves the Nittany Lions one allotted non-conference away game every two years (meaning just one home-and-home). Power Five opponents tend to only bite at scheduling home-and-homes, guaranteeing their fans at least one quality home matchup.

In essence, scheduling Temple to a home-and-home takes out the possibility of having a résumé-boosting non-conference game for at least one season, which would be crucial if the Nittany Lions are in playoff contention.

Take a look at the non-conference marquee matchups in the coming years, and it truly appeared that Penn State finally turned the page from scheduling Group-of-Five/perennial middle-of-the-road Power Five schools like Virginia, Syracuse, and Pitt.

The Nittany Lions will face Virginia Tech in 2020 and 2025, West Virginia in 2023 and 2024, and Auburn — their first regular season SEC meeting since Alabama in 2011 — during the 2021 and 2022 seasons.

Did sticking with the “philosophy” of scheduling at least one Power Five opponent and bringing “great games to Beaver Stadium” go out the window when Temple called?

Or is Penn State learning its lesson that playing Power Five schools opens the team to potential early season losses like it did against Pitt in 2016, as Pittsburgh Sports Now’s Alan Saunders suggests?

That’s probably not the case, with the aforementioned difficult non-conference slate ahead in the coming years and the fact that Temple did just knock off the Nittany Lions in 2015.

Still, it’s not a great look scheduling Temple to a home-and-home and questions like Saunders’s will get asked, especially since Penn State is taking full advantage of the recently relaxed Big Ten rules on scheduling FCS opponents — bringing Villanova and Delaware to Beaver Stadium four times in the next decade.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter as long as the Nittany Lions win all their games in a season, right?

Well, that’s happened just once in the Big Ten championship game era, and that team was ineligible for both the conference title game and postseason.

So if you’re on the College Football Playoff bubble, do you want to have a win over Virginia Tech, West Virginia, or any other quality Power Five school on your resume, or do you want to be the team that looks like it hid from a challenge and scheduled Temple?

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Unfortunately, former editor Steve Connelly has graduated. Where is he now? He might be doing something related to that PR degree he got in 2019. Maybe he finally opened that sports bar named after one of his photos, the Blurry Zamboni. Or he might just be eating chicken tenders and couch surfing. Anything’s possible. If you really want to know, follow him on Twitter @slc2o.

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