Penn State Football

Penn State moves up in new College Football Playoff rankings

psheehan@centredaily.com

As chaos took over college football on Saturday, Penn State escaped disaster — and the Nittany Lions have been rewarded.

Penn State is No. 8 in the third edition of this season’s College Football Playoff rankings, announced on Tuesday night. This is two spots higher for the Nittany Lions (8-2, 6-1), who came in at No. 10 last week.

Penn State is sandwiched between No. 7 Wisconsin and No. 9 Oklahoma.

Moving up this week was inevitable for the Nittany Lions after they fended off Indiana in a 45-31 road win. A pair of SEC contenders in front of Penn State — No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 9 Auburn — both lost on Saturday.

There was parity in the top-four, too. For the first time since 1985, the No. 2, 3, and 4 teams in the country lost on Saturday. Clemson was upset by Pittsburgh, which makes Penn State’s early-season loss more palatable, while Michigan fell to Iowa and Washington was handled by USC.

The Wolverines’ loss to the Hawkeyes gives Penn State a favorable track to the Big Ten title game. If the Nittany Lions win out (at Rutgers, vs. Michigan State) and Ohio State beats Michigan at the end of the regular season, Penn State will win the Big Ten East and head to Indianapolis.

What happens from there, who knows.

But the Nittany Lions, sitting at No. 8 in the country, are inching their way closer to legitimate contention for a playoff spot.

Penn State and Wisconsin are two of five Big Ten teams featured in this edition of the College Football Playoff rankings. Ohio State and Michigan are in the top-four, sitting at No. 2 and 3, respectively, while Nebraska is hanging around at No. 18.

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 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.

The Nittany Lions, on a historic six-game winning streak, look to make it seven in a row as they travel to New Jersey for an 8 p.m. Saturday game at Rutgers (2-8, 0-7).

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