As we all know by now, the Big Ten will be expanding to 14 schools at the start of the 2014 fall sports season. With the addition of two new teams came something else we already know about: new divisional alignment within the conference. With realignment comes the disappearance of the protected cross-divisional game, taking Penn State's renewed rivalry with Nebraska off the table on a year-to-year basis. When the original Legends-Leaders setup was devised a couple of years ago, the hope was to put the Nittany Lions and Huskers in the season finale spot every year a la Ohio State-Michigan. Now, that opportunity is dead.
There are, however, three logical choices to now fill that last November spot in the schedule for years to come.
Michigan State: Penn State's former final game foes have been moved to the East in divisional alignment which means that the Land-Grant Trophy will be back up for grabs every year starting in 2014. When Penn State moved into the Big Ten in 1993, the Spartans were a fixture at the end of the Lions' season until 2010 when they took the trophy back to East Lansing with them for an extended vacation after a 28-22 win in snowy, empty Beaver Stadium.
Series: Penn State 14-13-1
Maryland: Penn State and Maryland share a "rivalry" if you can call it that as Penn State has won or drawn 36 of the 37 matchups between the two teams. While the series has been one-sided (the Lions won the last game 70-7 in 1993), the two teams share a recruiting base in the Baltimore/Washington area as well as southern Pennsylvania. Plus, the Penn State alumni presence in the D.C. area is bigger than anywhere else in the country which would make a game in College Park at least a 50-50 event for the visiting team.
Series: Penn State 35-1-1
Rutgers: The other eastern school joining the Big Ten also has a history with Penn State and they've been just about as successful as Maryland has been. The Scarlet Knights and Nits have met 26 times in State College, Piscataway and in East Rutherford (6 times) and the State University of New Jersey has only mustered two wins, one in 1918 and one in 1988 which helped to propel Penn State to its first losing season under Joe Paterno. The campuses are only three-and-a-half hours from each other, a decent enough drive for late November provided the weather is still nice.
Series: Penn State 24-2
So for this Monday's question...
Which team do you want to see Penn State play in the season finale once new divisions come into effect in 2014: Michigan State, Maryland or Rutgers?
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