For years Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver wanted to match up the Hokies against his alma mater, Penn State, in football, but he could never make it happen.
He finally did Wednesday. The schools announced a home-and-home agreement that will have Virginia Tech host Penn State on Sept. 17, 2022, at Lane Stadium and travel to State College, Pa., to play on Sept. 16, 2023.
“I think this will be a series that our fans will look forward to since this is another Big Ten team,” Weaver said.
Weaver noted this is not the replacement he hinted at last week for the Wisconsin series. That was pushed back from 2016-17 to 2019-20 at the request of ESPN, which is finalizing a neutral site game between the Badgers and LSU in 2016.
An announcement about the “major conference opponent” that will fill out the Hokies’ schedule in 2016-17 isn’t expected for a while. Weaver said he’s still ironing out details.
Penn State is the fourth future Big Ten opponent on the Hokies’ schedule, joining Ohio State (2014-15), Wisconsin (2019-20) and Michigan (2020-21).
The Hokies have never played a regular season game against a team when it was a member of the Big Ten. Tech played Indiana in the 1993 Independence Bowl and Michigan in the 2012 Sugar Bowl. Three games against Nebraska took place when the Cornhuskers were a member of the Big 12.
“The ACC is very similar to the Big Ten,” Weaver said. “It just has a lot of similarities in terms of composition of the universities.”
Tech is 3-2 all-time against current Big Ten teams: Indiana (1-0), Nebraska (2-1), Michigan (0-1).
The Hokies and Nittany Lions have never played in football, although Weaver, a Harrisburg, Pa., native, is a connection between the programs.
Weaver earned bachelor’s (1967) and master’s degrees (1968) from Penn State, playing center and linebacker for Rip Engle and Joe Paterno. He got his start as an assistant coach under Paterno and coached current Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner, who was an All-American offensive lineman.
Discussions between the schools for a non-conference series started four or five months ago.
While near-term schedules haven’t yet been finalized, ones years down the line are certainly formidable. The Hokies play vs. Wisconsin and at Michigan in 2020, vs. Michigan and at West Virginia in 2021 and vs. West Virginia and Penn State in 2022. If the ACC rotation with Notre Dame holds, the Fighting Irish will also join the schedule in one of those years.
Weaver said part of this latest round of scheduling has been in response to the ACC backtracking on playing nine league games last fall. The conference, at least for now, has no plans on changing its eight-game format.
With the College Football Playoff coming and strength of schedule being one of the criteria the selection committee will take into account, Weaver wanted to make sure Virginia Tech’s non-conference schedule wouldn’t be a hindrance.
“We do want to play a schedule that has strengths in it if we’re fortunate enough to be a good ballclub,” he said. “We don’t want to be left out of the mix because we haven’t done a good enough job non-conference-wise.”
Virginia Tech’s future non-conference schedules are as follows:
- 2014: vs. William & Mary, vs. East Carolina, at Ohio State, vs. Western Michigan
- 2015: vs. Furman, at East Carolina, vs. Ohio State
- 2016: vs. Liberty, vs. East Carolina, at Notre Dame
- 2017: vs. Delaware, at East Carolina, vs. Old Dominion
- 2018: vs. William & Mary, at Old Dominion, vs. East Carolina
- 2019: vs. Charlotte, vs. Old Dominion, at Wisconsin, at East Carolina
- 2020: vs. Liberty, vs. Wisconsin, vs. East Carolina, at Michigan
- 2021: vs. Richmond, vs. Michigan, at West Virginia
- 2022: vs. West Virginia, vs. Penn State
- 2023: at Penn State