Penn State may not be playing perfect football, but it’s hard for anyone to argue with the results — including voters in the AP Top 25.
After dismantling Kent State 63-10 on Saturday afternoon, the Nittany Lions moved up one spot for a tie at No. 10 with Washington in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 Poll, which was released Sunday afternoon. The bump was expected due to an upset involving another Big Ten team previously in front of the Nittany Lions.
Wisconsin tumbled from No. 6 to No. 18 after losing 24-21 to unranked BYU. Auburn dropped only two spots to No. 9 after a hard-fought 22-21 loss to LSU, which leap-frogged PSU by rising from No. 12 to No. 6. Other movement in the top 10 was minimal.
Once again, however — as we remind readers every week — these rankings aren’t worth a whole lot right now. Although the AP Poll offers a nice preview of where the College Football Playoff selection committee may rank the teams, there’s still way too much football left to be played.
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In 2016, Penn State was unranked in Week 7. Four weeks later, it was No. 9.
What matters next is where Penn State is ranked Sept. 30, a day after it’s set to play No. 4 Ohio State. As long as the Nittany Lions and Buckeyes take care of business this coming weekend — with cupcakes Illinois and Tulane on the schedule, respectively — that Sept. 29 matchup is going to determine a lot.
Whoever loses that will need their opponent to suffer two other conference losses to pass it in the standings. In other words, the loser is at a huge disadvantage when it comes to reaching the conference title game. (Granted, in 2016, that really didn’t matter as Ohio State reached the playoff despite not making the Big Ten championship game. But Penn State didn’t lose to Pitt this year either.)
Based on the poll, Ohio State is still the team to beat in the conference. It was the highest-ranked Big Ten team at No. 4, followed by No. 10 Penn State, No. 18 Wisconsin, No. 19 Michigan and No. 24 Michigan State. Iowa also received votes and would have been the No. 26 team.
The full Top-25 rankings are below:
1. Alabama (58 first-place votes)
3. Clemson (3)
4. Ohio State
8. Notre Dame
T-10. Penn State
12. West Virginia
13. Virginia Tech
14. Mississippi State
15. Oklahoma State
21. Miami (Fla.)
22. Texas A&M
23. Boston College
24. Michigan State
Others receiving votes: Iowa 64, Boise St. 62, Duke 61, Colorado 49, California 40, Kentucky 38, South Florida 14, Texas 12, NC State 10, Arizona St. 9, Missouri 8, Utah 6, San Diego St. 5, North Texas 4, South Carolina 4, Washington St. 2, Syracuse 2