Penn State penciled in a major home-and-home series with an SEC power on Monday.
The Nittany Lions announced a series with Auburn beginning in 2021, according to multiple reports. Penn State will host the Tigers in 2021 before heading to Auburn in 2022.
Penn State and Auburn have squared off twice, but never during the regular season. The first meeting came in in the 1996 Outback Bowl, a 43-14 victory for the Nittany Lions. The Tigers got revenge seven years later with a 13-9 victory in the 2003 Capital One Bowl.
The program also revealed two other non-conference home games against a pair of MAC opponents. Penn State will take on Buffalo in 2018 and will battle Ball State in 2021.
Penn State has played only 45 games against the SEC, 15 of which have been against Alabama. The Nittany Lions are 23-22 in those 45 games. According to Reading Eagles’ Richard Scarcella, this new agreement marks Penn State’s first home-and-home series against an SEC team other than Alabama since 1976-77, when Penn State played a pair of games against Kentucky.
Coach James Franklin likely used his SEC roots from his Vanderbilt tenure to make this series happen. Franklin spent three seasons at Vandy and led the Commodores to consecutive nine-win campaigns during his final two years at the helm. Franklin’s Commodores beat Auburn 17-13 in 2012 in his only meeting against the Tigers during his time in Nashville.
Auburn is coming off of a grossly disappointing 7-6 season that placed a ton of pressure on coach Gus Malzahn to perform this season. It’s tough to imagine Malzahn leading the Tigers out of the Beaver Stadium tunnel when the teams square off five years from now. Of course, Franklin will have to show progress this season to avoid being placed on the dreaded hot seat himself.