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Previewing Penn State Football's 2022 Big Ten Schedule

With Penn State's season opener against Purdue on September 1, quickly approaching, it's time here at Nittany Nation that we begin to preview the 2022 Penn State Nittany Lions. Today, we begin those previews by looking at Penn State's conference schedule.

Big Ten East rivals such as Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State will always be a challenge for the Nittany Lions, and they’ll need to find a way to win these games in order to return to the conference title game.

That being said, Head Coach James Franklin’s squad can take solace in that they won’t have to face Iowa or Wisconsin, which look to be two of the best teams from the Big Ten West this year.

Here’s how Penn State’s competition compares at this point in the off-season.

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WEEK 1 vs. PURDUE BOILERMAKERS

RECORD IN 2021: 9-4 (6-3 B1G), def. Tennessee in Music City Bowl

LAST MATCHUP: Penn State: 35, Purdue: 7 (2019)

KEY RETURNS: QB Aidan O’Connell, LB Jalen Graham

KEY ADDITIONS: WR Tyrone Tracey (transfer - Iowa), KR/WR Charlie Jones (transfer - Iowa)

BOILERMAKER ANALYSIS: “I think the game is a toss-up. Purdue’s offense teems with potential, but it's looking for playmakers. The defense has lots of experience, with the line being the best unit. If it can stuff a PSU run game that looks dicey, Purdue could have success on that side of the ball.” — Tom Dienhart, Gold and Black

WEEK 5 vs. NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

RECORD IN 2021: 3-9 (1-8 B1G)

LAST MATCHUP: Penn State: 31, Northwestern: 7 (2017)

KEY RETURNS: OT Peter Skoronski, DE Adetomiwa Adebawore

KEY ADDITIONS: LB Wendell Davis Jr. (transfer - Pitt), WR Reggie Fleurima (Freshman)

WILDCATS ANALYSIS: “Penn State is going to be a tough matchup for the Wildcats, especially in State College, where they haven’t played since 2014. I think the Wildcats will be better on both sides of the ball than they were during a disastrous 2021 season, but beating the Nittany Lions on the road seems like a stretch.” — Louie Vaccher, WildcatReport

WEEK 7 vs. MICHIGAN WOLVERINES

RECORD IN 2021: 12-2 (8-1 B1G), def. Iowa in B1G Championship, lost CFP Semifinal to Georgia

LAST MATCHUP: Michigan: 21, Penn State: 17 (2021)

KEY RETURNS: DT Mazi Smith, CB DJ Turner

KEY ADDITIONS: OL Olu Oluwatimi (transfer - Virginia Tech), EDGE Mike Morris

WOLVERINES ANALYSIS: “I expect Michigan to stack up well with Penn State this season. The Wolverines should be similar but different on both sides of the ball, but with potential to be better. [RB Hassan] Haskins had 31 carries against Penn State so it will be up to Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards to duplicate this impact.” — Trevor McCue, Maize & Blue Review

WEEK 8 vs. MINNESOTA GOLDEN GOPHERS

RECORD IN 2021: 9-4 (6-3 B1G), def. West Virginia in Guaranteed Rate Bowl

LAST MATCHUP: Minnesota: 31, Penn State: 26 (2019)

KEY RETURNS: Grad. RB Mohamed Ibrahim, S Tyler Nubin

KEY ADDITIONS: Grad. IOL Chuck Filiaga (Transfer - Michigan), RS Sr. CB Beanie Bischop (transfer - Western Kentucky)

GOPHERS ANALYSIS: “From a skill position standpoint, a lot of the team from last season is returning. The big question is both lines, where Minnesota lost four of five starters from a year ago. I think the Gophers should be a competitive bunch that can compete with most teams in the Big Ten.” — Alex Carlson, The Gopher Report

WEEK 9 vs. OHIO STATE BUCKEYES

RECORD IN 2021: 11-2 (8-1 B1G), def. Utah in Rose Bowl

LAST MATCHUP: Ohio State: 33, Penn State: 24 (2021)

KEY RETURNS: QB C.J. Stroud, LB Jack Sawyer

KEY ADDITIONS: Grad. S Tanner McCallister (transfer - Oklahoma State), Fr. S Kye Stokes

BUCKEYES ANALYSIS: “Like it is seemingly every year, Ohio State’s matchup with Penn State could be a definining game in the grand scheme of the Big Ten race. This will be a significant challenge, just based on the atmosphere alone.” — Colin Gay, Scarlet and Gray Report

WEEK 10 vs. INDIANA HOOSIERS

RECORD IN 2021: 2-10 (0-9 B1G)

LAST MATCHUP: Penn State: 24, Indiana: 0 (2021)

KEY RETURNS: WR/KR DJ Matthews, DB Tiawan Mullen

KEY ADDITIONS: QB Connor Bazelak (transfer - Missouri), OLB Myles Jackson

HOOSIERS ANALYSIS: “How Indiana matches up against every Big Ten team is a question. Indiana has a lot of new pieces to their team that will play a very important role on both sides of the ball. IU has played PSU tight for much of the last few seasons and with this being in Bloomington, I think it's again going to be a much closer game than some may think heading into the season.” — Alec Lasley, TheHoosier.com

WEEK 11 vs. MARYLAND TERRAPINS

RECORD IN 2021: 7-6 (3-6 B1G), def. West Virginia in Pinstripe Bowl

LAST MATCHUP: Penn State: 31, Maryland: 14 (2021)

KEY RETURNS: QB Taulia Tagovailoa, OT Jaelyn Duncan

KEY ADDITIONS: WR Jacob Copeland (Transfer - Florida), LB Jaishawn Barham

TERRAPINS ANALYSIS: “I think Maryland and PSU are pretty evenly matched this season and I see a game that could go either way. Both teams have some holes that can be exploited and it is likely to come down to who better executes on game day.” — Scott Greene, Terrapin Sports Report

WEEK 12 vs. RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS

RECORD IN 2021: 5-8 (2-7 B1G), lost to Wake Forest in Gator Bowl

LAST MATCHUP: Penn State: 28, Rutgers: 0 (2021)

KEY RETURNS: QBs Noah Vedral, DT Ifeanyi Maijeh, CB Malachi Melton

KEY ADDITIONS: WR Taj Harris (transfer - Syracuse), OL J.D. DiRenzo (transfer - Sacred Heart)

SCARLET KNIGHTS ANALYSIS: "I fully expect Penn State to beat Rutgers this season. Head coach Greg Schiano and his staff are continuing to build the program. Beating PSU will come at some point, but not this year. Rutgers still has question marks in many areas, and it doesn’t have the quality depth yet that the Nittany Lions have.” — Chris Nalwasky, The Knight Report

WEEK 13 vs. MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

RECORD IN 2021: 11-2 (7-2 B1G), def. Pittsburgh in Peach Bowl

LAST MATCHUP: Michigan State: 30, Penn State: 27 (2021)

KEY RETURNS: QB Payton Thorne, S/LB Darius Snow

KEY ADDITIONS: CB Ameer Speed (transfer - Georgia), DT Simeon Barrow

SPARTANS ANALYSIS: “As it’s been for the past few years, this has become one of the better head-to-head matchups in the conference and I think that’s because both teams have comparable talent. It’s an even matchup, but whichever team’s newly-elevated players develop in the trenches will tell the story.” - Ricardo Cooney, SpartanMag.com

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