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All facets of college football seem to be in flux these days, from NIL laws to conference realignment, and non-conference scheduling is no exception. Since the shift to a committee-decided playoff in college football, schools and their ADs have needed to schedule more competitive non-conference games in order to stay relevant come postseason deliberations. The special games also help bolster the universities’ images and recruiting, as they serve as a national showcase for fans and athletes alike.
The non-conference game garnering some of the most preseason hype this year is in Week 3 as the Auburn Tigers travel north to play the Penn State Nittany Lions. The game will be the first time the two schools have ever played each other in the regular season. To mark the occasion, Penn State is planning a full ‘whiteout’ of the stadium, a tradition where all fans are encouraged to wear white.
Penn State’s Beaver Stadium is one of the country’s largest stadiums, seating over 100,000 fans. After a year of empty stadiums because of COVID, all of college football is certainly excited to be back participating.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix mentioned the road game during SEC Media Days, saying he was excited for the opportunity.
“[We’re] excited to play in front of all the great atmospheres that we have all across the SEC and even other places,” Nix said at SEC media days. “I know we get to go up to Penn State and play this year, which will be fun.”
PSU head coach James Franklin, a former SEC coach himself, knows the challenges his team faces as they try to claw back from a disappointing 4-5 season last year. When asked about his team’s mentality earlier this offseason, Franklin said his guys were “hungry.”
“We’ve had a lot of success at Penn State,” Franklin said, “and we’re excited to get back to that.”
Penn State returns 19 starters, nearly 80 percent of its offensive production, and third-year starting quarterback Sean Clifford. They’ll need all of that to beat Auburn, a team that doesn’t always play up to potential, but always has the talent to beat the best teams in the country year in and year out.
Penn State versus Auburn will be nationally televised on ABC in the Week 3 primetime slot.