Predicting Penn State Football’s 2019 Kickoff Times
Penn State won’t take the field at Beaver Stadium for another 130 days, but it’s never too early to plan out your trip to Happy Valley.
Unfortunately for fans, college football’s higher powers like to make that planning as difficult as possible by usually not announcing kickoff times until about two weeks prior to the start of each game. You can, however, follow one handy rule of thumb: Big games are played at night, and contests with less significance are played during the day. Remember, this all comes down to the big-money TV deals.
Here’s when we expect each game during the 2019 slate to kick off:
August 31 vs. Idaho: Noon
Penn State’s season opener has “noon kickoff” written all over it. FCS Idaho is coming off a 4-7 record in 2018, so don’t expect this game to be scheduled for prime time or even a mid-afternoon slot. Admittedly, there aren’t too many other captivating games scheduled for the first Saturday of the year.
Alabama-Duke and Georgia-Vanderbilt are the headliners of a week that features the vast majority of Big Ten teams playing FCS or Group of Five opponents.The only way this game is played at night is if the Big Ten Network picks it for its primetime broadcast, à la Georgia State 2017.
September 7 vs. Buffalo: 3:30 p.m.
Who’s ready for some good ol’ fashioned MACtion back at Beaver Stadium? After a 10-4 2018 season, Buffalo isn’t a pushover, so we think this game will get started at 3:30 p.m. to accurately reflect that. Whether the Bulls provide James Franklin with an Appalachian State-esque scare remains to be seen, but expect this game to kick off at the same time as Penn State’s 2018 season opener.
September 14 vs. Pitt: Prime time
We’re on the fence between a mid-afternoon and primetime kickoff here. Last year’s clash between the Nittany Lions and Panthers was not the most captivating contest. That 51-6 beatdown makes us think the college football gods won’t want another lopsided affair in the primetime slot, but this is also the last scheduled meeting between the teams. The fact that this is also the two sides’ 100th contest makes us lean toward a late kickoff, but don’t be shocked if this one gets started at 3:30 p.m.
The schedule-makers could also give the primetime slot to Iowa’s matchup with Iowa State or Arizona State-Michigan State in East Lansing.
September 27 @ Maryland: Prime time
Penn State will open conference play on a Friday for the second consecutive season, so this one’s a shoo-in for primetime on FS1.
October 5 vs. Purdue: 3:30 p.m.
This game might not be the best in terms of a match-up (unless Penn State greatly underachieves or Purdue greatly overachieves), but it should still kick off in the mid-afternoon. The Nittany Lions will whip out their Generations of Greatness uniforms to cap off Homecoming week, so we expect the schedule makers to keep this one away from the noon slot. Michigan State-Ohio State seems like the best fit for a primetime kickoff, leaving Iowa-Michigan at the Big House as the best noon kickoff candidate of the week.
October 12 @ Iowa: Prime time
Kinnick Stadium is never an easy place for opposing teams to play, and the intense atmosphere is amplified at night. If Iowa isn’t all that great, this one might get started during the day, but don’t forget that Penn State needed every last second to escape Kinnick with a victory under the lights in 2017. I expect the schedule makers to slot Michigan State’s matchup with Wisconsin into a mid-afternoon kickoff. With Ohio State idle and Michigan facing Illinois, Penn State-Iowa is easily the most captivating Big Ten game of the week. Plus, nighttime at Kinnick sounds like a perfect date with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler, doesn’t it?
October 19 vs. Michigan: Prime time
White Outs that start at any time before 7:30 p.m. are pure blasphemy. Sure, the MLB Playoffs will be in full swing at this time, but there are very few sporting events that can compete with the best atmosphere in college football.
October 26 @ Michigan State: 3:30 p.m.
Something about Penn State and Michigan State meeting on the gridiron is just synonymous with mid-afternoon kickoffs. Each of the teams’ past five meetings have started at 3:30 p.m., so we don’t expect anything to change this year.
November 9 @ Minnesota: Noon
This one depends on when Ohio State vs. Maryland kicks off. Assuming the Buckeyes and Terps get started at 3:30 p.m., Penn State will get a noon kickoff against Minnesota. Regardless, the Big Ten’s not-so-captivating slate of week 11 games will definitely take a backseat to other conferences’ rivalries, including Alabama-LSU.
November 16 vs. Indiana: Noon
Penn State-Indiana doesn’t exactly scream “prime time” — especially with Michigan State-Michigan and Georgia-Auburn on the week 12 docket — so we’ll see you at noon, Beaver Stadium.
November 23 @ Ohio State: Prime time
If everything goes as planned for these two teams, Penn State and Ohio State could shape up to be one of college football’s games of the year. We expect nothing less than a hostile primetime atmosphere at the Horseshoe in Columbus during the second-to-last week of the 2019 season.
November 30 vs. Rutgers: 3:30 p.m.
Penn State has ended its past three seasons with a mid-afternoon kickoff, so expect more of the same this year. “The Game” between Michigan and Ohio State traditionally occupies the noon slot in the last week of the year, so another Big Ten East game likely won’t be at the same time.
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About the Author
Clifford will take the job left vacant by Trace McSorley, who went 31-9 as the Nittany Lions’ QB1 in three seasons at the helm of the team’s offense.
2019 seems to break a trend for Penn State football, which usually named just three captains per season (one on offense, defense, and special teams).
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