Following multiple reports over the last week, Penn State and UCF officially announced Sunday morning that it will open its 2014 football schedule at Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland. The Nittany Lions will face Black Knights in the "Croke Park Classic" on Aug. 30 at 8:30 a.m. ET.
"This is a hugely significant event for Croke Park and Ireland," said Páraic Duffy, the director general of the Gaelic Athletic Association. "We in the GAA are looking forward to hosting a competitive sporting occasion. Irish people are renowned for their love of sport as evidenced by the thousands who attend our games throughout the year. I have no doubt that this game will be every bit as attractive."
This will be the eighth American college football game ever played in Ireland and Penn State's first international game in its 127-year history. Croke Park, with a capacity of 69,000, has not hosted a college football game since Notre Dame played Navy in 1996. Those two teams opened last season at Aviva Stadium, also in Ireland. It will be the first time a Big Ten team plays in another country since Michigan State met Wisconsin in Tokyo, Japan in 1993.
Both Penn State coach Bill O'Brien and UCF coach George O'Leary are of Irish heritage.
"We are thrilled to announce that we will play UCF at Croke Park to open the 2014 season," O'Brien said in a statement. "Our players and coaches are so excited to go to Ireland and play a college football game in such a historic and outstanding venue. I have great respect for Coach O'Leary and his team and playing UCF in Ireland will be a fantastic experience for all the players, coaches and fans."
The game will serve as a de facto bowl game for Penn State, which remains under NCAA sanction and cannot qualify for postseason play until 2016.
The Nittany Lions were originally scheduled to open their 2014 season on Aug. 30 -- the same day as their Irish date with UCF -- against Temple in Happy Valley. But that game has been moved to Nov. 15, an open date for both schools.
Temple will now open its season 2014 season at Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 6 against Navy.