Penn State Beaseball vs. Lafayette, Justin Williams (33)

Infielder Justin Williams (33) swings at a pitch during the baseball game against Lafayette College at Medlar Field on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Penn State won 3-2.

From a scheduling standpoint, 2021 will be unprecedented territory for Penn State.

For the first time since they took the diamond in 1875, the Nittany Lions will play a conference-only slate. The blue and white will play all 12 fellow Big Ten teams in a 44-game schedule. 

Penn State has struggled mightily in conference play recently, going 11-59 from 2017-19. The Nittany Lions went 12-12 in the Big Ten in 2016, which was their best mark under coach Rob Cooper, who is now in his eighth season at the helm.

The blue and white’s 2021 schedule features just 16 home games along with 20 road contests and eight neutral site matchups. The regular season will wrap up on Memorial Day weekend, as there will not be a Big Ten Tournament this year.

Penn State will play 16 games against teams that qualified for the 2019 NCAA Tournament, the most recent edition of the college baseball postseason. The Nittany Lions will play Michigan, the 2019 College World Series runner-up, in a three-game series in late March.

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The blue and white opens the season March 5, kicking off a four-game, neutral-site series against Northwestern in Minneapolis at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Wildcats were 11-13 in conference play in 2019 but are projected to finish near the bottom of the conference in 2021, according to D1Baseball.com.

After their opening weekend, the Nittany Lions will begin arguably their toughest stretch of the season, playing Indiana, Maryland and Michigan on three consecutive weekends.

The Hoosiers won the regular-season conference title in 2019 and qualified for the NCAA Tournament, while the Terrapins are projected by D1Baseball.com to make the postseason this year.

Penn State will also play Nebraska and Ohio State — both 2019 NCAA Tournament teams — on back-to-back weekends in April. The Buckeyes won the 2019 Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Nittany Lions’ longest homestand is just six games and will take place in March.

The home stretch will be preceded by eight games away from Medlar Field at Lubrano Park to open the season.

New to the schedule this year are four-game weekends, in which Penn State will play two different teams in one location. The Nittany Lions will host one of these weekends, while they will hit the road for the other two.

In early April, Penn State will travel to Michigan State for two games against the Spartans on a Friday and early Saturday afternoon. The Nittany Lions will then play Purdue in the late afternoon on Saturday and again on Sunday.

A similar format will be in place in mid-May, as Penn State will welcome Minnesota and Rutgers to Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions will play the Golden Gophers on that Friday and Saturday and the Scarlet Knights on Sunday and Monday.

Penn State will conclude the regular season with a four-game weekend from May 28-30 in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Nittany Lions will play both Minnesota and Purdue, although game times have yet to be announced.

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