After receiving a four-year postseason ban last year, the Penn State Nittany Lions began looking at ways to upgrade their future football schedules. A series with UCF was recently announced, and now Penn State is looking at playing a future game in Ireland.
Head coach Bill O’Brien confirmed the possible overseas trip Saturday night at a high school football banquet at the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
“We are definitely looking into playing in Ireland, no question about it,” O’Brien said.
“We’re working on an opponent and we’re working with the Big Ten on that. So that’s something that’s definitely in the works.”
The game would likely be labeled the Emerald Isle Classic and played at Dublin’s new Aviva Stadium.
In the inaugural Emerald Isle Classic in 1988, Boston College defeated Army 38-24. A year later, Pittsburgh beat Rutgers 46-29. Both of those contests were played at Lansdowne Road (replaced by Aviva Stadium in 2010).
Notre Dame and Navy played in the Emerald Isle Classic in 1996 and most recently in 2012. The Fighting Irish won both games 54-27 and 50-10, respectively.
Penn State’s possible appearance in the game could occur as early as 2014 based on their future football schedules. The Nittany Lions have three games scheduled that season, all at home (Temple, Akron, and UMass).
However, Penn State’s recent series announcement with UCF states that they will travel to Orlando in either 2014 or 2015. So they may not have an opening in 2014 depending on the placement of that trip.
In 2015, PSU currently has a trip to Temple and a visit from Buffalo. The 2016 schedule lacks one non-conference game, while 2017 through 2021 lack three games each.
Another roadblock to consider will be if, or when, the Big Ten decides to move to a nine-game conference football schedule. That will drop Penn State’s non-conference slate down to three games each season.