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Penn State slides up in new College Football Playoff rankings

adrey@centredaily.com

With another top-five team losing this past week and Penn State safely avoiding calamity, the Nittany Lions have moved up in the College Football Playoff rankings yet again.

Penn State slid up a spot in the fourth edition of the rankings to No. 7, announced on Tuesday night. The Nittany Lions (9-2, 7-1 Big Ten) are between No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 8 Oklahoma after then-No. 5 Louisville lost to Houston.

After struggling early and later putting Rutgers away in a 39-0 road win a few days ago, the idea of Penn State being jumped by the Sooners (9-2, 8-0) was kicked around in the national discussion. Oklahoma, ranked No. 9 last week, defeated then-No. 14 West Virginia 56-28 in Morgantown.

The Nittany Lions and Badgers are two of five Big Ten teams featured in this edition of the College Football Playoff rankings. Ohio State and Michigan are still in the top-four, sitting at No. 2 and 3, respectively. Meanwhile, Nebraska remained in the rankings at No. 16.

Even if Oklahoma jumped Penn State by a spot, it wouldn’t have mattered too much in the Nittany Lions’ hunt for a playoff spot. A lot of Penn State’s legitimacy in that regard will come down to Saturday.

The Nittany Lions need to beat Michigan State this weekend and have Ohio State defeat Michigan in order to win the Big Ten East division and reach the conference title game in Indianapolis.

If Penn State earns a berth and wins the Big Ten Championship — likely against Wisconsin — it could be vaulted into the top-four.

The College Football Playoff rankings, selected by 12 committee members, was instituted for the 2014 season. Now in its third season of determining what four schools will face off in the four-team playoff, the rankings take the following into consideration: strength of schedule, team records, conference championships and head-to-head results.

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