Penn State’s win Saturday may not have been a pretty one — but it was still a win. And it still helped move the Nittany Lions up in the polls.
After a 20-7 victory over Rutgers, Penn State moved up one spot to No. 15 in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 Poll, which was released Sunday afternoon. It leap-frogged one squad in Syracuse, a 36-3 loser against Notre Dame on Saturday.
As it currently stands, Sports Illustrated now projects Penn State in a better bowl but against the same opponent it predicted last week. And that’s Joe Moorhead’s Mississippi State in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1. (Last week, it felt the Outback Bowl was more likely.)
A spot in one of the New Year’s Six bowls also remains possible.
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Once again, however, as we reiterate every week, the AP Poll in and of itself doesn’t mean a whole lot. It doesn’t count toward the playoff rankings, but it does act as a sneak preview with how the playoff committee ranks the teams.
Last week, for example, the AP Poll had Penn State ranked No. 16 — and the College Football Playoff committee had it at No. 14. The week before, both rankings were different by just one spot and, the week before, the rankings were identical.
Those CFP rankings, which directly impact the bowls, will be released again Tuesday evening.
Based on Sunday’s AP Poll, Michigan remains the team to beat in the conference. The Wolverines remained at No. 4, followed by three other Big Ten teams in No. 10 Ohio State, No. 15 Penn State and No. 20 Northwestern.
Other Big Ten teams receiving votes in the poll included Iowa and Wisconsin.
The full top-25 rankings are listed below:
1. Alabama (61 first-place votes)
3. Notre Dame
7. Washington State
10. Ohio State
12. West Virginia
14. Utah State
15. Penn State
21. Boise State
22. Mississippi State
25. Iowa State
Others receiving votes: Fresno St. 100, NC State 45, Cincinnati 43, Missouri 34, Texas A&M 29, Auburn 11, Stanford 8, Iowa 8, UAB 5, Houston 3, Wisconsin 2, Buffalo 1, Troy 1