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April 15, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., - Penn State will begin Big Ten Conference play with a prime time showdown in Beaver Stadium.
The Nittany Lions' Sept. 26 contest with Iowa has been set for prime time national TV exposure, with kickoff at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN or ABC.
The Big Ten also announced that Penn State's Oct. 31 contest at Northwestern will kick at 3:30 p.m. CT/4:30 p.m. ET and air on ESPN or ESPN2. The game is considered to be a prime time game by the television networks and the Big Ten.
The two Penn State contests are among 14 Big Ten football games that will air in prime time this fall on ESPN, ESPN2, ABC or the Big Ten Network. Penn State and Iowa are the only conference schools with more than one prime time game on ESPN or ABC this season. Four of the eight prime time contests airing on the Big Ten Network are conference games. No additional Big Ten home games will be moved to primetime for the 2009 season.
The 2008 Big Ten Champions, Penn State was 7-1 in conference play, with its only loss coming Nov. 8 at Iowa, 24-23, on a field goal on the final play of the game. The Nittany Lions finished 11-2 overall, playing USC in the Rose Bowl, and were ranked No. 8 in the final polls. The Hawkeyes finished 9-4 overall, defeating South Carolina in the Outback Bowl and earning the No. 20 spot in the final rankings.
Penn State leads the series with Iowa, 11-10. A determination on which network will air the Sept. 26 game may not be made until 12 days before the game.
The Nittany Lions and Wildcats will be meeting for the first time since 2006. In Penn State's last visit to Evanston, in 2005, Derrick Williams caught a touchdown pass from Michael Robinson in the final minute to lift the Lions to a 34-29 win in the Big Ten opener en route to the conference title and a berth in the FedEx Orange Bowl. Penn State beat Northwestern, 33-7, in Happy Valley in 2006 to take a 9-3 series advantage. The Wildcats were 9-4 last season, falling to Missouri in overtime in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
Penn State will be playing at least one regular season night game for the 10th consecutive season. Last year, the Nittany Lions defeated Illinois and Michigan at home and Wisconsin and Ohio State on the road in prime time.
The Nittany Lions have long been one of college football's premier programs for television networks. Every Nittany Lion game has been televised the past five seasons and 177 of the last 179 Penn State games overall have been on TV. Since 1995, Penn State has had 161 regular season telecasts, tops in the Big Ten.
A Penn State game owns the top four spots and eight of the 12 all-time among the highest rated Big Ten football games on ESPN. The Nittany Lions' win over Michigan State during the unbeaten 1994 Big Ten Championship season remains the highest rated Big Ten game on ESPN with a 5.40 rating. The Nittany Lions' pulsating win over the Buckeyes in 2005 earned a 4.91 rating, the Big Ten's second highest on ESPN. The 2008 Penn State-Michigan game was the conference's highest rated contest on ESPN last season and No. 12 overall.
A Penn State contest also owns the top three spots and six of the top eight all-time among the highest viewed Big Ten football games on ESPN. The Nittany Lions' win over the Buckeyes in 2005 is the conference's highest viewed game on ESPN, as 4.435 million U.S. cable households tuned in. The 2008 Penn State-Michigan game drew the conference's highest viewership on ESPN last season (No. 6 all-time), as 3.235 million cable homes tuned in the Nittany Lions' 46-17 Homecoming win.
Future Penn State contests may be selected by the networks under the six and 12-day provisions of their contracts with the Big Ten Conference.
Penn State has earned one of the nation's Top 10 records since the start of the 2005 season, posting a 40-11 (78.4) mark, good for No. 9 nationally. The Nittany Lions have won 42 of their last 53 games overall, dating to the final two games of the 2004 season.
Entering his 44th season as head coach and 60th on the Penn State coaching staff, Paterno returns 37 letterwinners and 10 starters for the 2009 campaign.
The Nittany Lions conclude spring drills on Saturday, April 25 with the highly-anticipated Blue-White Game presented by Donate Life Pennsylvania. As in previous years, there is no admission or parking fee for the Blue-White Game. Activities will begin on Friday, April 24 at 6 p.m. with a carnival outside Beaver Stadium. On Saturday, stadium parking lots will open at 8 a.m. Stadium gates A, B and C will open at 12:00 p.m., with the popular autograph session starting at 12:30 p.m. and kickoff at 2:00 p.m. The carnival and other activities will run from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday, with fireworks near Medlar Field at Lubrano Park at approximately 9 p.m. on Friday following the Penn State-Illinois baseball game.
The Blue-White Game presented by Donate Life Pennsylvania can be heard on the Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com.
For the complete listing of 2009 Big Ten prime time football games, go to: www.bigten.org.