It’s won’t be clear for, oh, about eight months what the state of Penn State football will be come late October.
But the Oct. 22 matchup against Minnesota at Beaver Stadium will be significant for two reasons; the return of former Nittany Lions offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca, and Homecoming.
Penn State announced Friday that its 2022 Homecoming festivities will commence Sunday, Oct. 16, and culminate with the next Saturday’s game. This announcement comes six days after the theme for this year’s festivities— “One Community, Forever a Home”— was revealed last weekend at THON.
You’re invited! The Homecoming Executive Committee is pleased to welcome you home to State College for the celebration of Homecoming week from Sunday, October 16th to Saturday, October 22nd. For The Glory! pic.twitter.com/zd4yBnJHXk
— PSU Homecoming (@PSUHOMECOMING) February 25, 2022
It’s hard to imagine this year’s Homecoming game going as poorly for Penn State as 2021’s game did. The Nittany Lions, then-ranked in the top ten, lost to Illinois, who finished 5-7, in nine overtimes.
That loss game killed Penn State college football playoff and Big Ten championship aspirations, and the Nittany Lions went on to drop four of their final six to end the season.
Minnesota has ruined Homecoming in Happy Valley before. In 1999, Penn State came into the day 8-0 and ranked second in the country. But a miracle 4th and 16 pass caught by a diving Arland Bruce set up Dan Nystrom’s 32-yard field goal, and the Gophers stunned Penn State, 24-23. The Nittany Lions lost their last two regular season games, and a season with national title goals ended with Penn State playing in the Alamo Bowl.
20 years later, Penn State again took on Minnesota undefeated, this time in Minneapolis with a 9-0 record. Again, the Gophers upset the Nittany Lions, hanging on for a 31-26 win. Both starting quarterbacks that after noon— Sean Clifford for Penn State and Tanner Morgan for Minnesota— are set to be back as sixth-year seniors in 2022.
Penn State leads the all-time series, 9-6. The teams have only played three times since 2009, and only twice in the James Franklin era. Franklin is 1-1 against Minnesota and 0-1 against current Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck.