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College Football World Reacts: Michigan State To Play Penn State At Ford Field on Black Friday

You won’t BELIEVE these shocking revelations.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

As we prepare for a summer of conference realignment speculation, the ripple effects of media rights driving everything about college football continue to be felt in the form of the extremely early kickoff announcements for late season prime time Big Ten games. The latest announcement: Michigan State‘s home finale against Penn State has been set for a night kickoff on Black Friday at Ford Field.

Here at Off Tackle Empire, the only Big Ten blog left on the internet in 2023, we are essentially all that’s left of the college football world. So when we react, the college football world reacts!

There has been a decidedly mixed reaction among terminally online Spartan fans about moving the Senior Day contest against the Lions to the home of the Lions. Per Pete Thamel, both schools made “significant concessions for the good of the league.”

In MSU’s case, they will play only two games at Spartan Stadium after September 23rd. In exchange for losing a full 14& of the value of their season ticket package, season ticket holders received the opportunity for exclusive access to buy tickets for the Ford Field game.

It’s not yet clear what concessions Penn State has made. The last three Land Grant Trophy games at Spartan Stadium have featured a lightning delay, rain and snow; the Spartans are 2-1 in those games.

MSU’s last game at Ford Field drew only 36,000 or so for an early-season contest against Florida Atlantic in 2010, but this season-ending context promises not only much more juice, but a much more available fanbase (with many Spartan students and alumni based in metro Detroit and not being tempted to ditch the game for one last trip to the Lakehouse Up North before it gets cold). This is the same theory Illinois applied when moving the 2015 HAT game against Northwestern to Soldier Field. The 35K attendance, while piss-poor, was no different than any Thanksgiving weekend game in Champaign. Nevertheless, one of Josh Whitman’s first actions as athletic director in 2016 was to move the 2017 and 2019 games back to Champaign.

The incursion of Big Ten football on Thanksgiving weekend is a much more recent phenomenon than you might expect. Prior to 2011, Thanksgiving weekend games were uncommon, and they were virtually unheard of in the pre-2005 era of eleven-game schedules. Thanksgiving weekend games virtually guarantee that most of the student body is out of town, especially since dorms are often closed during this time. Nevertheless, when Nebraska was added in 2011, the Big Ten championship game was permanently affixed to the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Starting in 2012, each team was assigned a One True Rival that they would play every Thanksgiving weekend for the rest of time (or until more teams are added to the conference anyway). As we all know, the ultimate Big Ten rivalry game has always been the season finale for both Purdue and Indiana, and the same is also true of the game between Michigan and Ohio State.

As the NFL explores things like neutral-site playoff games, expanded international games, an expanded Thanksgiving weekend schedule and other attempts to make the league live as one unified television brand at the expense of the actual communities that support the teams, college football will presumably follow suit. We’ve been spoiled in the Big Ten by having our “all day College Football Saturday tailgate and go to the game” routine preserved for most home games; good luck trying to do that as a student fan at a MAC school with their constant weeknight kickoffs.

Thanksgiving weekend at Ford Field will kick off with the NFL game, followed by the college game on Friday, and then Saturday and Sunday will be the high school football championship games (if we have time for them anyway).

As for making concessions for the good of the conference? Well...

So what’s your take?


What do you think of this move to Ford Field?

  • 32%
    Good! Change of pace!
    (47 votes)
  • 30%
    Bad! College football is for college!
    (44 votes)
  • 18%
    (27 votes)
  • 18%
    lol climate change will swallow the heartland in 10 years none of this matters
    (26 votes)
144 votes total Vote Now