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Could PSU and Pitt play in 2025? Lions have opening in schedule and face tough choice

PSU coach James Franklin talks with Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi before last year's game at Beaver Stadium.

Penn State’s future football schedules are set for the next four seasons, and the next open date isn’t until Sept. 6, 2025.

Virginia Tech was supposed to come to Beaver Stadium on that date, but since PSU couldn’t visit Blacksburg in 2020 because of COVID, the Hokies won’t be coming to Happy Valley for that 2025 game.

Any time an opening in the schedule comes up, the first question many PSU fans will ask is this: Could the Nittany Lions play Pitt?

Well, the Panthers do not have an opponent scheduled yet for Sept. 6, 2025. They have only two games lined up for that season — on Sept. 13 at West Virginia and a home game against Notre Dame that does not have a date yet.

OK, so could PSU vs. Pitt take place in 2025?

And if not, who could the Lions end up playing?

Here’s a look at Penn State’s 2025 schedule, from GoPSUSports:

2025 Penn State Football Schedule
Aug. 30      Nevada
Sept. 6       Open
Sept. 13     Villanova
Sept. 20     Rutgers*
Sept. 27     at Illinois*
Oct. 4         Purdue*
Oct. 18       at Maryland*
Oct. 25       at Minnesota*
Nov. 1        Indiana*
Nov. 15      at Ohio State*
Nov. 22      Michigan*
Nov. 29      at Michigan State*
Note: One non-conference game (Sept. 6) to be scheduled

Some things to consider with scheduling:

** The most important thing to notice above is that PSU has only six home games scheduled in 2025. So that means the Sept. 6 game absolutely will have to be another home game, because the school has lots and lots of bills to pay, and it simply cannot afford to have a season with only six home football games.

** If PSU is going to play Pitt in 2025, the Panthers would have to come to Beaver Stadium. That’s just all there is to it. It could either be in just a one-game situation (not likely), or the schools could find another year for PSU to return the trip to Pittsburgh. The return trip would NOT occur in 2026, because the Lions already have their non-conference schedule set (more on that in a bit).

** Would Pitt really want to play Penn State in 2025? The Panthers already have non-con games at WVU and home against Notre Dame that year, and adding a third major opponent ON THE ROAD, no less, simply may not be appealing to Pitt. That would be one hell of a difficult non-con schedule. Then again, for Pitt to play Penn State and the Backyard Brawl against WVU in back-to-back weeks would bring the program a lot of exposure.

OK, but if it’s not Pitt, who could Penn State play in 2025? There are two options:

1: PSU could schedule a home-and-home series against a major opponent, with that team coming to Beaver Stadium in 2025 and the Lions returning the trip in 2027 or beyond. Or …

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2: Penn State could just use the open date in 2025 as a buy game and bring in a mid-major for an easy win. But that would be problematic for PSU, for one very big reason.

Penn State’s non-con slate for 2025 already includes home games against Nevada and Villanova. Neither of those is a sexy opponent that will excite the fan base.

Oh, and in 2026, the non-con games are against Marshall, at Temple and home vs. San Jose State. Yes, the Marshall game is an interesting regional draw, but it’s still not a sexy opponent.

It’s hard to imagine Penn State would go two consecutive years without giving the fan base at least one really appealing non-con opponent at home. The school asks fans to pay a whole bunch of money for season tickets, and trying to justify that money by pointing to games against Nevada and Marshall as the big draws would be a tough ask.

So, one would think Penn State has to go out and find some outstanding opponent for a home game on Sept. 6, 2025.

If somehow, some way it could be Pitt, that would appeal to pretty much everyone.

If not the Panthers, then Penn State will need to be careful with that 2025 opening, because its fan base will deserve for that game to be against a marquee team.

By the way, the marquee non-con games for the next four years will include a home-and-home series against Auburn the next two seasons, then a home-and-home series against West Virginia in 2023 and ’24.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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