For the first time in its brief history, the College Football Playoff rankings feature Penn State.
The Nittany Lions are No. 12 in the rankings’ first edition of the 2016 season, announced on Tuesday night. Penn State (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten) is sandwiched by Florida and LSU at No. 11 and 13, respectively.
This is a sizable spike from Penn State’s standing in the now-obsolete AP Poll. The Nittany Lions, ranked in the AP Poll for the first time since 2011 after their upset over then-No. 2 Ohio State, were No. 24 after Week 8 and No. 20 on Sunday.
“Penn State has played a great schedule, and obviously have a great win over Ohio State,” College Football Playoff committee chair Kirby Hocutt said on ESPN’s ranking show. “Four of their six wins have come against teams with a winning record. Penn State, in the eyes of the committee, over the discussions the past two days, we’ve taken a lot of looks at the schedule they’ve played and been very impressed with their improvement, and also quality of wins.”
Penn State is one of five Big Ten teams in the initial rankings. Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Nebraska are No. 2, 6, 8 and 10, respectively.
Alabama is No. 1 overall, followed by Clemson, the Wolverines, Texas A&M and Washington.
Prior to Tuesday, Penn State was one of six Big Ten teams, along with Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland and Rutgers, to never have earned a spot in the College Football Playoff rankings.
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 teams will face in the four-team playoff, the rankings take the following into consideration: strength of schedule, conference championships, team records and head-to-head results.
The Nittany Lions, picking up steam via a four-game winning streak, will look to boost their stock even further as they host Iowa (5-3, 3-2) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Beaver Stadium.