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2023 Penn State football schedule ranked among top 15 hardest in college football

According to the ESPN Football Power Index, the Nittany Lions are slated to play one of the toughest schedules in college football.



2023 Penn State football schedule, 2023 schedule
Nov 27, 2021; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) passes the ball during the fourth quarter against the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There is some debate over how tough the 2023 Penn State football schedule truly is. According to some outlets, the Nittany Lions have a relatively easier schedule. However, according to ESPN, Penn State is slated to play one of the top 15 hardest schedules in college football. According to the ESPN FPI, the Nittany Lions’ 2023 schedule is the 14th hardest in the nation heading into the year.

2023 Penn State football schedule one of the 15 hardest schedules in college football

The ESPN FPI (Football Power Index) is often regarded as a reliable benchmark for anticipating the upcoming season. This year, the FPI has identified the 2023 Penn State football schedule as one of the toughest in the sport, ranking it among the nation’s top 15 most challenging, and rightfully so.

Unlike most major Power Five programs, Penn State football will kick off their 2023 schedule against a fellow Power Five opponent: West Virginia. The Mountaineers will travel to State College for a Week 1 night game, which is set to be the Nittany Lions’ “helmet stripe” game, effectively serving as a mini white out game.

The Nittany Lions have a relatively easier matchup against Delaware in Week 2 before hitting the road in Week 3 for their first significant test of the season against Illinois, who boasted one of the best defenses in college football last fall. Week 4 brings no respite as Penn State football is scheduled to host the Iowa Hawkeyes in the renowned white out game.

There are several other challenging matchups scattered throughout Penn State’s 12-game schedule. These include a road game against the Ohio State Buckeyes, Penn State’s “stripe out” game against the Michigan Wolverines, and a road matchup against the Michigan State Spartans on Black Friday, which is a short-week game.

According to the Football Power Index, the 2023 Penn State football schedule is ranked as the 14th hardest among FBS programs and the 6th hardest in the Big Ten. According to ESPN, programs such as Minnesota, Maryland, Michigan State, Rutgers, and Indiana all have schedules that are even more difficult.

However, the Nittany Lions have the most difficult schedule among the 5 teams with the highest Big Ten title odds, which includes Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Iowa. But ultimately, Penn State is expected to be favored in 10 of its 12 regular season games, with showdowns against the Buckeyes and Wolverines set to determine the race for the Big Ten East once again.

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