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Penn State’s trip to Maryland moved to Friday night

The first matchup between James Franklin and new Maryland head coach Mike Locksley will take place on a Friday evening. The Maryland athletic department announced on Monday morning that the 2019 installment of the game will take place on Friday, Sept. 27. The change has already been reflected on Penn State football’s official Web Site as well.

The game was previously scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 28. Kick time and television rights will be announced at a later date. The game will take place at Maryland Stadium in College Park, per the release. The two teams played at M&T Bank Stadium in 2015.

Both teams have a bye the previous week.

The Nittany Lions have played just one Friday night game since the conference moved to schedule more prime-time games starting in 2017, winning 64-24 at Illinois earlier this year. Penn State informed the conference that it would not be open to hosting Friday night games at Beaver Stadium, but would occasionally play on the road.

In an appearance on “The Nitwits” TV show during the Nittany Lions’ 2018 bye week — three weeks after PSU’s Friday night win at Illinois — athletic director Sandy Barbour indicated a reluctance to play another Friday night game anytime soon.

“Penn State has indicated that we would not do a Friday night at home, and that to be good partners from a Big Ten standpoint, we would do one every few years on an away site,” she explained. “So that was our first one. And we certainly hope we don’t have (another) one for a number of years.”

The primary difference with the Friday night game in 2019 is that it will be following a bye week, and the Lions can adjust their practice schedule as such. The 2018 game followed a win over Kent State the previous Saturday and threw off the normal practice approach, as there were only five days between games.

As Barbour indicated, PSU has been steadfast that it will never play host to a Friday night game.

“Penn State has informed the Big Ten that we will not host football games on a Friday night,” read a 2016 statement. “We are receptive to an occasional day game on the day after Thanksgiving. There are a variety of reasons why, among them, we know how important high school football is to hundreds of communities across the commonwealth. In addition, we have considered the impact that a Friday night home football game would have on key community stakeholders.

“We support the conference’s desire to expand exposure for Big Ten football on national platforms, providing additional content at high demand times, and we’ve agreed to play no more than one away game each year on a Friday night.”

Franklin was a little more direct with his opinion when asked at Big Ten Media Days over the summer. He repeated “I don’t like it,” a few times, citing the traditional scheduling model.

“Friday nights are for high school football, Saturday is for college and Sunday is for the NFL,” he said. “So we’re not going to do this at Penn State, at home, but we also appreciate, and understand and respect that other teams in our conference are going to use a different approach. For me, I’m a little bit of an old school guy, I believe that the Friday, Saturday, Sunday model has worked for a long time and I’d like to keep it that way.”

Penn State will open its 2019 season on August 31 with the first of three straight home games. The Nittany Lions welcome Idaho, Buffalo and Pittsburgh to Beaver Stadium on three consecutive weekends before taking the first of what will be two bye weeks in the 2019 season.

Next up after the Maryland game will be Purdue at home.

Penn State leads the all-time series against Maryland with a 39-2-1 record. The Nittany Lions won at home in November, 38-3. 

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