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Penn State's O'Brien: Nittany Lions should play in a "Kickoff Classic" opener

HARTFORD, Conn. – Penn State coach Bill O'Brien would like to start a season-opening, stand-alone “Kickoff Classic” for his program similar to games played by the Nittany Lions under Joe Paterno.

Speaking here at the Penn State Coaches Caravan, O'Brien said he'd like to play a season opener in any or all of these stadiums: New Jersey's Met Life Stadium, FedEx Field (home of the Redskins) and Gillette Stadium (home of the Patriots).

O'Brien mentioned USC and Alabama as possible opponents but later said the idea was only the discussion stages.

“I got a text from my wife:,” he said. “Alabama? The first game of the year? Are you nuts.”

From 1983-2000, Penn State played in four of the old Kickoff Classics against Nebraska, Georgia Tech and USC (twice). The first Kickoff Classic in Meadowlands Stadium (Penn State-Miami) was the first regular-season, major-college game played in the month of August. The game was discontinued after 2002.

Penn State opens the 2013 season in Met Life Stadium in a previously scheduled game against Syracuse. After that, the schedule is set through 2015, O'Brien said.

“Isn't that great for college football with teams like Penn State opening up a season against Southern Cal?” he said. “I mean, I don't want to play it next year. Give me a chance to get the program going my way. I think in the future that would be a big game. Every week in the NFL is a big game. I love big games.”

Any Kickoff Classic-style season opener might clash with the Big Ten-Pac-12 Challenge that begins in 2017. That would give Penn State two BCS-level non-conference opponents before opening Big Ten play. Penn State also plays Pittsburgh in 2016 and 2017. O'Brien has advocated a permanent renewal of the Pittsburgh rivalry.

"I just want to play Pitt every year," O'Brien said. "What's wrong with that? ... The new news is that I'd like to open the season at Met Life Stadium or FedEx Field or a neutral site against a top opponent. It's great for our alums. Imagine playing playing Southern Cal in a Kickoff Classic-style opener."

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