Penn State won’t have to wait long to establish rivalries closer to home.
The Nittany Lions will join a newly created East Division with Rutgers and Maryland when the two newest Big Ten members join the conference in 2014. They’ll be joined by Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State as part of a conference realignment the Big Ten Conference office announced Sunday.
Penn State, which currently plays in the Big Ten Leaders Division with Ohio State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana and Illinois, will join other Big Ten schools in moving to a nine-game conference schedule in 2016. The Nittany Lions currently play an eight-game conference schedule with four non-conference opponents.
“We feel these new alignments and the upcoming nine-game conference schedule will continue to build on the tremendous interest and enthusiasm in Big Ten football among Penn State and college football fans,” Penn State Director of Athletics David Joyner said in a release.
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The addition of Maryland and Rutgers lessens travel loads for Penn State’s football team and also allows Penn State to play in two areas where alumni bases are strong. Penn State’s campus is less than 200 miles from Maryland and just more than 200 miles from Rutgers.
On the field, Maryland and Rutgers have not posed much of a threat to the Nittany Lions historically. While Penn State hasn’t played Maryland since 1993 and Rutgers since 1995, the Nittany Lions have dominated their Terrapin and Scarlet Knights counterparts. Penn State is 22-2 against Rutgers and 35-1-1 against Maryland. Combined, the Nittany Lions are 106-51-2 against the teams that will compose the East Division in 2014.
Indiana has never beaten Penn State while Maryland’s lone win against the Nittany Lions came in 1961. Rutgers last beat Penn State in 1988.
“We are really enthusiastic about renewing our rivalries with Maryland and Rutgers, starting in 2014, and we welcome them to the Big Ten,” Joyner added. “We have a long history with both institutions in football and numerous sports and are looking forward to resuming our competition as conference colleagues. I have heard from many Penn State alumni and fans who are excited about being able to easily drive to see our teams play at Maryland and Rutgers.”