Penn State, UCF to kickoff 2014 season in Ireland in Croke Park Classic

Penn State will meet Central Florida in Ireland to kick off the 2014 college football season.

Penn State and UCF will meet in Dublin in the Croke Park Classic on Aug. 30, 2014, both schools announced on Sunday. The game at 69,000 seat capacity Croke Park (pronounced Crow) will be televised on ESPN2 at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time (1:30 p.m. local time in Dublin).

Both teams will be playing in their first game outside of the country. However, UCF has hosted an international foe, defeating Russia's Moscow Bears 43-6 on Oct. 3, 1992. Penn State will be the first Big Ten team to play internationally since Wisconsin and Michigan State faced off in Tokyo, Japan in 1993. UCF will be the first American Athletic Conference team to play overseas, a fact which Commissioner Mike Aresco was quick to point out as a strength for his nascent conference. “This game reflects the creative scheduling that will energize our conference,” Aresco said, adding, “The game also serves a larger purpose of providing our student-athletes with a valuable cultural experience while contributing to the growth of college football on the world stage.”

Ireland is no stranger to hosting college football as Penn State-UCF will be the eighth regular season contest in the country since 1988. Croke Park hosted a Notre Dame 54-27 victory over Navy in 1996. Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien and Knights coach George O'Leary both have Irish heritage, O'Leary stated. Additionally, the Knights' kickoff specialist, Sean Galvin, is from Cork, Ireland.

As a football fan, international games in Europe are always good news as it means more viewing options with the first game of the day starting so early on Saturday. This season, Penn State and UCF will give us a preview of their meeting in Ireland when the teams meet at Penn State on Sept. 14, 2013. Penn State is 2-0 against UCF all-time.