Penn State’s epic collapse against Ohio State on Saturday night was one of the most painful home losses in program history. But, when it came to the polls, it could’ve been a lot worse.
Voters in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll, which was released Sunday afternoon, opted to drop the Nittany Lions two spots to No. 11. The fall isn’t a huge surprise.
Stanford was the lone top-10 team to lose Saturday, and it dropped seven spots to No. 14. The teams to leap-frog Penn State included No. 10 Washington (up one spot), undefeated No. 9 West Virginia (up three spots) and No. 8 Auburn (up two spots).
There is at least some silver lining here. If the AP Poll is any indication of where the College Football Playoff selection committee will rank the Nittany Lions — and it should be, within a few spots — then James Frankin’s squad is still alive for a playoff berth. It no longer controls its own destiny but, if it wins out, it’d have a strong argument as a top-four team.
According to ESPN’s Playoff Predictor, Penn State currently has a 16 percent chance to make the playoff. It wins out and doesn’t win the division, that reportedly rises to 53 percent.
And, as we tend to remind readers every week, Penn State was unranked in Week 7 of 2016. Four weeks later, it was No. 9. A lot can still happen.
The Nittany Lions have to hope that other Big Ten teams move up in the top 25 so future matchups against the likes of Wisconsin and Michigan State will carry more weight with the voters.
In the AP Poll, the Buckeyes remain the team to beat in the conference after moving up one spot with a No. 3 ranking. They’re followed by four other teams in the Big Ten — including No. 11 Penn State, No. 15 Michigan, No. 16 Wisconsin and No. 20 Michigan State. Iowa and Maryland are also receiving votes.
The full top-25 rankings are below:
1. Alabama (58 first-place votes)
3. Ohio State (1)
4. Clemson (1)
6. Notre Dame
9. West Virginia
11. Penn State
17. Miami (Fla.)
20. Michigan State
23. N.C. State
24. Virginia Tech
25. Oklahoma State
Others receiving votes: Boise St. 86, South Florida 83, Syracuse 74, Cincinnati 35, Iowa 34, Texas A&M 31, Washington St. 14, TCU 13, California 10, Maryland 10, Missouri 8, Mississippi St. 3, Boston College 3, BYU 3, Arizona St. 2, Appalachian St. 2, Duke 1, Hawaii 1, San Diego St. 1.