Despite earning the Big Ten East division title over the weekend, Penn State did not move up in the College Football Playoff rankings.
The Nittany Lions didn’t fall, either.
Penn State stayed at No. 7 in the fifth edition of the rankings, the committee announced on Tuesday night. The Nittany Lions (10-2, 8-1 Big Ten) are between No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 8 Colorado, which jumped Oklahoma.
Penn State and Wisconsin, who face each other in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, are two of four Big Ten squads represented in this edition of the College Football Playoff rankings.
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Ohio State held firm at No. 2 in the country after defeating Michigan in The Game. The Wolverines fell from No. 3 to 5.
Rounding out the rest of the Big Ten, Nebraska, which was No. 16 last week, fell out of the rankings after losing to Iowa 40-10 on Friday. The Hawkeyes did not move into the top-25.
However, Pittsburgh did slide in at No. 25. The Panthers’ fine finish to the season could help Penn State’s perception.
The rest of the rankings were as expected. Alabama was No. 1, while Clemson and Washington moved up to No. 3 and 4, respectively, with Michigan’s loss.
College Football Playoff committee chair Kirby Hocutt discussed the new rankings, and was asked about the gap between No. 7 Penn State and No. 2 Ohio State.
His answer? “They’re not close in the eyes of the selection committee,” Hocutt said.
Hocutt also said that the difference between No. 4 Washington and No. 5 Michigan is “extremely small”, which is not a good sign for the Nittany Lions. If the Huskies fall to Colorado in the Pac-12 Championship game Saturday, it’s looking more and more likely that the Wolverines, who hold wins over the Nittany Lions and Buffs, would slide into the four-team playoff.
As a reminder, 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.
While the Big Ten champion doesn’t get in automatically, the past two conference winners (Ohio State in 2014, Michigan State in 2015) did reach the playoff.