With college football in Happy Valley a mere 11-plus weeks away, let's begin taking a look at the Nittany Lion opponents in 2011. Over the next three months, we'll take a look at all the opponents, including their strengths and weaknesses, and three things to watch from each.
Obviously, some will be more in-depth than others. While Larry Bird was a stellar player at Indiana State in the 1970's, I'm not sure their 2011 football program warrants as close a look as Alabama or Ohio State. But hopefully, by September 3, you'll have a better look at what the season should hold for the 2011 Penn State Nittany Lions.
Week One - vs. Indiana State Sycamores, 12:00 pm
Penn State opens the season with a yawner, hosting Indiana State of the Missouri Valley Conference (yes, another FCS opponent). The Sycamores went 6-5 in 2010, including a 4-4 record in the powerful MVC. Their lone FBS matchup last year was a 40-7 drubbing at the hands of Cincinnati.
They are led by fourth-year head coach Trent Miles, who had spent time on both the Washington Huskies and Notre Dame Fighting Irish staffs before heeding his calling at Indiana State. Penn State has never faced Indiana State, but does have an impressive 14-0 record against the state's other namesake university.
If you need more information about Indiana State, head over and check out two good posts from Linebacker-U.com, specifically the Too Much Information: Indiana State post and the Summer Snapshot: Indiana State post. If you need even more information, you must be a Sycamore fan, student, or alum. In that case, you're out of luck.
Strengths In 25 Words or Less
Their strengths are mostly financial, as the Sycamores will likely see a pretty hefty payday for being 2011's sacrificial lamb for the Nittany Lions.
Weaknesses In 25 Words or Less
They play in the FCS and recently snapped a 33-game losing streak.
Three Things To Watch For
1) The stadium attendance at kickoff. The over/under will be set at 65 percent capacity, as the students have been slower and slower in getting to their seats, and a weak out-of-conference game like this one probably won't make it any easier.
2) Who's under center. This will be the main storyline all summer and fall unless and until a starter is named.
3) The playcalling. With Alabama looming a week away, the Nittany Lions will likely keep it simple, hoping to avoid giving away too much information to future opponents. Given that a vanilla offense will probably still win by 30, this is a safe move.
The Nittany Lions have never lost to an FCS opponent, and they're not about to start now. The Nittany Lions take the game, 41-6.
Penn State 2011 Football Schedule
|Date||Opponent / Event||Location|
|9/3/2011||vs. Indiana State||University Park, Pa.|
|9/10/2011||vs. Alabama||University Park, Pa.|
|9/17/2011||at Temple||Philadelphia, Pa.|
|9/24/2011||vs. Eastern Michigan||University Park, Pa.|
|10/1/2011||at Indiana||Bloomington, Ind.|
|10/8/2011||vs. Iowa||University Park, Pa.|
|10/15/2011||vs. Purdue||University Park, Pa.|
|10/22/2011||at Northwestern||Evanston, Ill.|
|10/29/2011||vs. Illinois||University Park, Pa.|
|11/12/2011||vs. Nebraska||University Park, Pa.|
|11/19/2011||at Ohio State||Columbus, Ohio|
|11/26/2011||at Wisconsin||Madison, Wis.|