Penn State may have had the chance to take on the defending national champions this upcoming season, according to a 2013 Big Ten composite schedule.
In October 2013, The Daily Collegian reported that LSU and Penn State were set to match up in the 2020 season after BTN.com accidentally linked a composite schedule in a story before removing the link from the article. The Collegian’s 2013 report can be found here.
In that story, the Collegian staff saved and linked a PDF file of the composite schedule that was originally posted — the link to view and download that PDF file can be found here.
The PDF shows the future football schedules for all Big Ten teams, whether the schedules have been completed or not.
For the year 2020, Penn State has just a single game filled in, and it was week two, Sept. 12, against the LSU Tigers.
The Nittany Lions actual opponent for Sept. 12 is Virginia Tech.
So what happened? Why don’t we get to see Penn State face off with the defending national champions?
Well, in the 2013 article published by the Collegian, the Penn State Assistant Athletic Director for communications at the time said that talks between the two schools had occurred and that a future neutral site game had been discussed.
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Also in that article, LSU’s sports information director for football at the time, Michael Bonnette, was quoted saying he was unaware of any talks, but also that LSU is always looking to bolster its schedule, and playing a Big Ten team would do just that.
It’s likely that some discussion between representatives of the two programs were had, but fizzled out before any agreement could be made.
But the idea that two football powerhouses like Penn State and LSU could matchup in week two after both finishing inside the top-10 rankings of the AP Poll a season ago was incredibly intriguing.
This is the kind of matchup fans want to see during non-conference play in the early weeks of the season, even if it would occur at a neutral site.
Even though the matchup never became official and isn’t happening this fall, why not hypothetically look into it and make some predictions?
In an article from NCAA.com predicting preseason rankings for the 2020 season, LSU is ranked No. 4 and Penn State sits at No. 8.
The Nittany Lions arguably have an advantage in returning talent, mostly because their quarterback Sean Clifford is entering his second season as a starter and a step forward can be expected, while the Tigers lost 13 players to the NFL Draft, which set an SEC record.
This hypothetical matchup might end up being a shoot-out.
LSU wideout Jamarr Chase is the best receiver in the country and cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields would have to have his best career performance if he would have any hope of slowing him down.
The Tigers’ run defense last year wasn’t incredible, while the Nittany Lions excelled in pounding the ground game. Penn State would have the advantage on the ground overall, considering it was also the No. 5 ranked defense in the country in opponent rushing yards per game.
But the Nittany Lions’ secondary and pass defense would struggle to contain the electric LSU offense that set all kinds of records a season ago.
In the end, it’s hard to think that Penn State’s offense could keep up with that of the Tigers, so LSU gets the hypothetical edge in a high scoring thriller, 42-31.