Another week, another big win — another rise in the AP Top-25 rankings.
After a dominant 63-24 win over Illinois on Friday night, Penn State discovered Sunday afternoon that it moved up one spot to No. 9 in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 Poll. The bump wasn’t necessarily expected, as every team in front of the Nittany Lions also won Saturday.
Penn State leap-frogged Auburn, which fell one spot to No. 10 despite beating Arkansas 34-3. Washington, which was tied with PSU at No. 10 last week, dropped to No. 11 after a 27-20 victory over Arizona State.
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.
In 2016, Penn State was unranked in Week 7. Four weeks later, it was No. 9.
That being said, the Nittany Lions’ next game is a big one — yes, for poll reasons too, but mainly because it will determine just how high Penn State can climb. Ohio State remains the highest-ranked Big Ten team at No. 4 and, with the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions set to play Sept. 29, Penn State should be looking at a top-5 poll appearance with a win.
A victory would automatically thrust Penn State into the Big Ten driver’s seat. The loser would need a lot of help to make the Big Ten title game — in addition to winning out, it would also need the other team to drop two conference games to pass it in the standings.
In other words, the odds are this acts as an elimination game of sorts for the Big Ten championship.
Based on the poll, Ohio State is still the team to beat in the conference. It was ranked No. 4 on Sunday, followed by four other Big Ten teams in No. 9 Penn State, No. 14 Michigan, No. 15 Wisconsin and No. 21 Michigan State. Iowa and Maryland are also receiving votes.
The full Top-25 rankings are below:
1. Alabama (60 first-place votes)
3. Clemson (1)
4. Ohio State
8. Notre Dame
9. Penn State
12. West Virginia
16. Miami (Fla.)
21. Michigan State
23. Mississippi State
25. Texas Tech
Others receiving votes: Colorado 83, Boise St. 58, Virginia Tech 55, South Florida 50, Oklahoma St. 44, Texas A&M 41, Iowa 31, South Carolina 31, Florida 29, NC State 28, Syracuse 25, TCU 24, North Texas 10, Cincinnati 10, Utah 9, Mississippi 7, Missouri 7, Buffalo 6, Maryland 6, San Diego St. 5, Arizona St. 4.