UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., February 6, 2013 - Penn State will host the University of Central Florida (UCF) on Sept. 14 to complete its 2013 football schedule. The University of Virginia recently notified Penn State it would not be playing the game scheduled for Sept. 14 in Beaver Stadium in order to play an additional home game.
The Nittany Lions and Knights are discussing playing a game in Orlando, possibly during the 2014 or 2015 seasons, according to Dave Joyner, Penn State Director of Athletics. Joyner said Penn State and Virginia are working to re-schedule this year's game in a future season.
The Knights will be the Nittany Lions' eighth opponent this season that played in a 2012 bowl game. Penn State and UCF will be meeting for the third time. In 2002, the Nittany Lions posted a 27-24 win in the season opener in Beaver Stadium. In 2004, Penn State beat the Knights, 37-13, in Happy Valley.
"We are excited to have UCF returning to the Penn State schedule," said Joyner. "We're pleased that we can bring Bill O'Brien and (UCF coach) George O'Leary, one of his mentors, together on the playing field this fall. We are in discussions with Virginia about finding a date to play in Beaver Stadium."
"It will be a great honor to play against UCF and Coach O'Leary," Penn State Coach Bill O'Brien stated. "UCF is a good football team. Coach O'Leary has done a fantastic job at UCF and obviously he has meant a lot to my career. This will be a great game for our fans and I'm really looking forward to it."
O'Brien was a member of O'Leary's staff at Georgia Tech from 1995-2001. O'Brien was a graduate assistant coach from 1995-97, running backs coach from 1998-2000 and was promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2001, O'Leary's final season with the Yellow Jackets. Brent Key, the UCF offensive line and assistant head coach, played for O'Leary and O'Brien at Georgia Tech from 1997-2000.
Penn State assistant head coach/wide receivers coach Stan Hixon (1995-99) and offensive line coach Mac McWhorter (2000-01) coached with O'Leary and O'Brien in at Georgia Tech. Jim Bernhardt, Penn State Special Assistant to the Head Coach and Director of Player of Development, was a member of O'Leary's UCF staff from 2004-07, helping the Knights to their first Conference USA Championship game and bowl berth.
During the 2012 season, UCF earned a 10-4 record, playing in the Conference USA Championship game and beating Ball State in the Beef O'Brady Bowl. UCF lost at Ohio State, 31-16, last season in its most recent game against a Big Ten foe. The Knights will begin play in the Big East Conference this fall.
Penn State completed a two-game series in 2011 with Alabama, the BCS National Champion the past two years. During the 2012 season, Virginia returned to the Nittany Lions' slate. Kent State, ranked No. 25 in the final 2012 BCS standings, will visit Beaver Stadium on Sept. 21, 2013.
Last month, Penn State and Pitt announced that the long-time rivals will meet every season from 2016-19. The Nittany Lions will play in Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2018 and the Panthers will play in State College in 2017 and 2019.
The Nittany Lions and long-time rival Syracuse played in 2008-09 and will meet in the 2013 season opener on August 31 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Penn State and old rival Rutgers are scheduled to meet in 2014-15. The Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten Conference last November.
Penn State's regular season non-conference opponents during the past 12 years include: Pitt (2000), Southern California (2000), Miami, Fla. (2001), Southern Miss (2001), Virginia (2001-02, 2012), UCF (2002, '04), Boston College (2003-04), South Florida (2005), Cincinnati (2005), Notre Dame (2006-07), Oregon State (2008), Syracuse (2008-09), Alabama (2010-11) and Ohio (2012).
The Nittany Lions also played Nebraska in 2002-03 before the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten in 2011 and became Penn State's annual divisional crossover opponent.
Led by first-year coach O'Brien, the Bear Bryant, Maxwell Football Club and ESPN Coach of the Year, the Nittany Lions posted an 8-4 overall mark and finished second in the Big Ten Leaders Division with a 6-2 record. Penn State won eight of its final 10 games, with the only losses coming against division winners Ohio State and Nebraska. In the season finale, the Nittany Lions beat eventual Big Ten champion Wisconsin, 24-21, in overtime.
Season tickets are available for the 2013 season. The Nittany Lions will host three teams that finished in the 2012 BCS Top 25: Michigan (Oct. 12-Homecoming), Nebraska (Nov. 23) and Kent State. Purdue, Illinois, UCF and Eastern Michigan also will visit Beaver Stadium this year. The Nittany Lions open the season Aug. 31 vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.