Penn State, UCF to square off in Dublin

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Updated: 7/14/2013 2:17 pm

University Park, PA (Sports Network) - Penn State Nittany Lions football is going abroad for the first time in its storied century-plus history.

On Sunday, the school announced that the Nits will kick off their 2014 campaign against Central Florida in Dublin on August 30.

The game will be contested at Croke Park -- headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

"This is a hugely significant event for Croke Park and Ireland," said Paraic Duffy, director general of the GAA. "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."

The Penn State-UCF contest will be the eighth American college football game held in Ireland. The last one contested in Croke Park was in 1996 when Notre Dame played Navy. The Irish and Midshipmen played in Dublin's Aviva Stadium to open the 2012 season.

Penn State will be the first Big Ten Conference team to play internationally since Michigan State and Wisconsin met in Tokyo in the 1993 regular season finale.

"We've not only grown our appreciation for the games so entrenched in the history and traditions here in Ireland, but have also confirmed that, because of the Irish people and their hospitality, Penn State fans are going to love their time here in late summer of 2014," said PSU director of athletics Dave Joyner.

Under trying circumstances and the leadership of first-year head coach Bill O'Brien, Penn State finished last season with an 8-4 record and 6-2 conference mark, which was good enough for second place in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten. PSU opens up its 2013 slate by playing Syracuse on August 31 in East Rutherford, NJ.

"We are thrilled to announce that we will play UCF at Croke Park to open the 2014 season, " said O'Brien. "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."

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