Pittsburgh Contest, Busy September Home Slate Highlight 2012 Schedule
The Youngstown State football team will open the 2012 season at Pittsburgh on Sept. 1, then have a three-game homestand, featuring contests against two FCS playoff squads, the Athletic Department announced on Monday. YSU also has three consecutive games against teams who reached the postseason this year.
YSU has previously traveled to Heinz Field to play the Panthers in 2005 and 2009 and this will mark the eighth consecutive year that the Penguins have played a BCS-member school. Pitt will be in the second season under Head Coach Todd Graham. In 2011, the Panthers posted a 6-6 mark and were invited to the BBVA Compass Bowl against SMU. They have been accepted into the Atlantic Coast Conference, however, it has not been announced if they will join the league this fall. If they are member of the ACC in 2012, it will be the program's first meeting against a member of that conference.
Things rev up when Youngstown State returns home to face Valparaiso in the home opener on Sept. 8. It marks the second straight season the Penguins and Valpo will meet in the home opener at Stambaugh Stadium. The Crusaders were much improved in the final month of the season, snapping a nearly three-season losing streak with a win over Campbell and suffering a narrow loss at Davidson in the season finale.
The Penguins play three straight games against 2011 FCS playoff foes beginning with their first-ever meeting against Albany. The co-champions of the Northeast Conference, the Great Danes went 8-4 in 2011 dropping a 31-28 contest in the first round of the playoffs at Stony Brook. Albany led that contest 28-10 in the third quarter. The Great Danes are coached by Bob Ford who has 255 career victories in 39 seasons.
The next two contests are against teams that are in the quarterfinals of the 2011 FCS Playoffs.
YSU opens its 16th season of Missouri Valley Football Conference action against UNI on Sept. 24 at Stambaugh. The Penguins have lost the past two games to the Panthers by four points each, while four of the last five contests have been decided by a total of 10 points.
While the Guins get a Saturday off on Sept. 29, the schedule does not lighten up in the coming weeks.
For the second consecutive year, YSU returns to Fargo to face co-league champion North Dakota State on Oct. 6. The Penguins knocked off the then-No. 1 Bison, 27-24, on Nov. 12 at the Fargodome this past season. Of the six all-time meetings, none have been decided by more than eight points.
Youngstown State continues road MVFC play on Oct. 13 at Illinois State. The Redbirds won seven games in 2011, with their lone home defeat coming in double overtime to UNI on the season's final regular-season Saturday. YSU defeated Illinois State 34-27 early in the conference opener for both school's in 2011. The home team has won each of the past four meetings.
A return to Youngstown features a contest against Southern Illinois on Oct. 20. The Penguins have beaten the Salukis the past two years and will be going for their first three-game winning streak in the series since the late 1990's. YSU's 35-23 win in 2011 was its biggest over SIU since 2002.
The Guins head back out on the road looking for their first win at South Dakota State since 1974 on Oct. 27. The Jackrabbits have won all four MVFC clashes with the Penguins since they joined the league in 2008. In 2011, YSU led 28-21 before SDSU scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to rally for the victory.
Another first-time foe for the Penguins visits the Ice Castle on Nov. 3 in South Dakota. The Coyotes will be in their inaugural season of play in the MVFC in 2012. USD was 6-5 in 2011 with a win over defending FCS Champion Eastern Washington. South Dakota spent the past four seasons in the Great West Conference while making the transition from a Division II to FCS program.
The final regular-season road showdown of the year is at Western Illinois on Nov. 10. The Penguins have won seven of the last eight meetings with the lone blemish a 40-38 defeat in Macomb in 2009. This past campaign, YSU rolled to a 56-14 win over the Leathernecks to earn its 16th win in the all-time series. It will mark the 28th meeting between the two programs making WIU the second-most played foe in school history behind Akron (35 games).
The final regular-season contest is at Stambaugh Stadium against Indiana State on Nov. 17. The much-improved Sycamores are coming off back-to-back six win seasons for the first time since 199596. ISU held on for a 37-35 win over the Penguins this past September after jumping out to a 21-0 lead. They feature Walter Payton Award Finalist and MVFC Offensive Player of the Year Shakir Bell. YSU still leads the all-time series 18-3.
The first-round of the FCS playoffs is set to get underway on Nov. 24. A date for the National Championship Game has yet to be announced.
In 2012 and 2013, the Penguins will not face Missouri State. YSU and the Bears had played every year since 1996.
Game times will be announced at a later date.
As always, season tickets for the upcoming season are available now in the Athletic Ticket Office at (330) 941-1978.
Sept. 1 at Pittsburgh
Sept. 8 vs. Valparaiso
Sept. 15 vs. Albany
Sept. 22 vs. UNI*
Sept. 29 (IDLE)
Oct. 6 at North Dakota State*
Oct. 13 at Illinois State*
Oct. 20 vs. Southern Illinois*
Oct. 27 at South Dakota State*
Nov. 3 vs. South Dakota*
Nov. 10 at Western Illinois*
Nov. 17 vs. Indiana State*
Nov. 24 FCS Playoffs