Nittany Lions Looking to be Road Warriors in 2018
On the heels of only the fifth back-to-back 11-win seasons in program history, the Penn State Nittany Lions have returned to the rank of the college football powerhouses under head coach James Franklin.
Last year, the Nittany Lions fell a mere four points short of a perfect season in back-to-back heartbreaking road losses to Ohio State and Michigan State. And while replacing all-world running back Saquon Barkley and nine defensive starters is no small task, the Nittany Lions return Heisman-hopeful quarterback Trace McSorley and a number of impact players on both sides of the ball that should keep the Nittany Lions near the top of the Big Ten.
This season, the Nittany Lions will travel to five away games — thankfully, no back-to-back road games this season — and each one gives Penn State fans and alumni a chance to see different parts of the country. And whether you decide to go to Pittsburgh, Champaign or Ann Arbor, a Penn State trip is always a trip to remember.
Here is a closer look at all of the 2018 Penn State away games:
Sept. 8 – At Pittsburgh Panthers
Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Connect with PSU Alums in Pittsburgh: http://www.psupgh.com/
Place to Stay: Pittsburgh Marriott City Center: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/pitdt-pittsburgh-marriott-city-center/
Only two years removed from a devastating early season loss that ended up keeping the 2016 Nittany Lions out of the College Football Playoff, the in-state rivalry between Penn State and Pitt is still strong. And while fans still love the rivalry, there are only two more games scheduled in this series and there is no indication that Penn State is interested in keeping Pitt — a team that has won 10 games in a season only once in the past 35 years and does nothing to boost the strength of schedule — as an opponent for the foreseeable future.
If you need another reason to go: Less than three hours west of State College, Pittsburgh is one of the most fun cities in the northeast and that is even more true when thousands of Penn State fans come to town. With the game time slated for 8 p.m., Penn State fans can plan to visit PNC Park on the other side of the river to catch a 1:05 p.m. game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins. And when “yinz” are in Pittsburgh, make sure to grab a Primanti Bros. sandwich and an ice cold IC Light!
Sept. 21 – At Illinois Fighting Illini
Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Ill.
Connect with PSU Alums in Illinois: http://www.psuchicago.org/
Place to Stay: I Hotel and Conference Center: http://stayatthei.com/
The only Penn State football game under Friday night lights in recent memory has the Nittany Lions traveling to Champaign, IL on Friday, September 21. The Fighting Illini were the only winless team in Big Ten games last season and they have only been above .500 in the Big Ten once in the past 15 years. It is going on four years since Illinois has scored a point against the Nittany Lions but they have not won at Illinois since 2012.
If you need another reason to go: In Central Pennsylvania, we have some of the best small and large craft breweries in the world — but it is always nice to see what the others are doing. Perhaps the best restaurant in Champaign is DESTIHL Restaurant & Brew Works. It features everything from burgers and sandwiches to steaks and seafood — but the real attraction is the variety and quality of beers from sours to IPAs and everything in between.
Oct. 20 – at Indiana Hoosiers
Memorial Stadium, Bloomington, Ind.
Connect with PSU Alums in Indiana: https://www.facebook.com/pennstateindiana/
Place to Stay: Grant Street Inn https://www.grantstinn.com/
The Nittany Lions have dropped nine of the past 10 meetings with the Indiana Hoosiers — on the basketball court. On the football field, Penn State has won 20 of 21 meetings, including last year’s 45-14 blowout of the overmatched Hoosiers. The Hoosiers brought in former Arizona starting quarterback, graduate transfer Brandon Dawkins who could breathe some life into their offense, but they still have a long way to go before they become a formidable Big Ten opponent.
If you need another reason to go: When anyone thinks of Bloomington and Indiana University, the first things that come to mind are Bobby Knight and basketball — but Bloomington has so much more to offer as an away trip destination. Bloomington has some of the best mountain and road biking in all of the Midwest and boasts numerous local craft breweries and wineries. And of course, if you want to get your basketball fix it is always a great idea to schedule a tour of Hoosiers’ Assembly Hall.
Nov. 3 – At Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Connect with PSU Alums in Michigan: https://www.facebook.com/psuofmichigan
Place to Stay: Graduate Ann Arbor https://www.graduatehotels.com/ann-arbor/
Undoubtedly the hottest ticket on Penn State’s 2018 away game schedule, every Nittany Lion fan needs to take a trip to the “Big House” once. The Nittany Lions have only won once at Michigan Stadium in the past 20 years and this year’s Wolverines will be far improved from the team that was blown out at a Beaver Stadium white out game last October. The Wolverines have a difficult schedule — but will be coming off a bye week to host the Nittany Lions in what could be the defining game of Penn State’s 2018 season.
If you need another reason to go: Ann Arbor has a diverse international food scene, with over 300 restaurants but while you’re in town, consider booking a tour on the 16-person pedal trolley. High Five Pedal Tours takes you on a trip through some of Ann Arbor’s best local breweries, restaurants, bookstores, and attractions. Pick one of their craft brew tours or give them a call and map out your own tour of downtown Ann Arbor!
Nov. 17 – At Rutgers Scarlet Knights
High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, N.J.
Connect with PSU Alums in New Jersey: http://pennstatecnj.com/
Place to Stay: Hampton Inn North Brunswick http://hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/new-jersey/hampton-inn-north-brunswick-new-brunswick-EWRNBHX/index.html
Since joining the Big Ten four seasons ago, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights have scored only one touchdown in four games against the Nittany Lions. And coming off another four-win season, they should not give Penn State any late-season headaches. The Scarlet Knights have started to land some talent and can turn a corner if their offense finds the right quarterback. In the Big Ten, no game is a guaranteed win, but there is not a nicer way to end the season than playing Rutgers and Maryland.
If you need another reason to go: Rutgers campus is located less than an hour away from New York City and the Nittany Lions are in town only a month from Christmas. A trip to the city for a Broadway show, a nice dinner and some holiday shopping after a big Penn State win can make the Rutgers game one of the most enticing road games of 2018 for those of us in Happy Valley.