Delaware makes a date with Penn State; will play in Happy Valley in 2023 and 2027
Delaware is set to match up with the Penn State Nittany Lions for the very first time.
On the morning of the team’s 2018 season opener against Rhode Island, Delaware announced that it will play Penn State twice — first in 2023 and then in 2027. Both games will be played in Happy Valley at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium, which seats 106,823.
Should the games be filled to or close to capacity, they will be the largest crowd Delaware has ever played before.
The News Journal first reported in May that a deal between Delaware and Penn State was likely to be agreed upon.
Penn State and Delaware operate in different ranks within NCAA Division I football. Penn State competes in the Bowl subdivision and Delaware competes in the lower Championship subdivision, named for their postseason structure. The schools are typically regarded as having two of the most reputable sports program in the mid-atlantic region.
The Blue Hens are currently in the middle of a six game series against ACC schools that was scheduled by former Athletic Director Eric Ziady. Delaware has played four of the six games in the series, with the final two set to be played at Pittsburgh in 2019 and at North Carolina State in 2020.
The ACC series began in 2014, when Delaware lost to Pitt 62-0. The Blue Hens lost to North Carolina, 41-14 in 2015, Wake Forest, 38-21 in 2016 and to Virginia Tech last season, 27-0.
Matchups between FBS and FCS teams, like Penn State and Delaware respectively, are rarely competitive. Playing in larger stadiums before rambunctious crowds offer players a valuable new perspective, but the main draw for FCS schools are the paydays that come along with the trips.
The News Journal reported last season that Delaware received upwards of $400,000 for playing Virginia Tech.
Delaware does not face an ACC opponent this season, but will face a similar challenge when the team travels to Fargo, North Dakota on Sept. 22 to face perennial FCS powerhouse North Dakota State.
The Blue Hens open the 2018 season tonight at Delaware Stadium at 7 p.m. against Rhode Island.