Penn State is starting to make its case for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The Nittany Lions (6-0) moved up three spots to No. 7 in the latest Associated Press, which was released Sunday afternoon. Penn State survived a tight contest against Iowa on Saturday night in a 17-12 road win, making it one of just 12 undefeated teams left in the nation.
This is now the 48th straight week that Penn State is ranked in the AP Top 25, making it the country’s fifth-longest streak behind Alabama (187), Ohio State (122), Clemson (76) and Oklahoma (51).
James Franklin’s squad was able to leap-frog three teams this week: Georgia (No. 10), Florida (No. 9) and Notre Dame (No. 8). Georgia fell seven spots after losing 20-17 to unranked South Carolina in double overtime, and Florida dropped two spots after a 42-28 loss to No. 2 LSU. Notre Dame didn’t lose, but it barely defeated unranked USC 30-27. (It still rose one spot, jumping the Gators and Bulldogs, however.)
Penn State now has 1,129 voting points; it had 958 last week.
As it stands, 247 Sports and CBS Sports have a slight difference of opinion in the Nittany Lions’ bowl destination. 247 projects Penn State to take on Georgia in the Citrus Bowl, which kicks off 1 p.m. on Jan. 1. And CBS Sports predicts PSU will face Auburn in the Outback Bowl, which also kicks off at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Day.
No, it’s not the College Football Playoff. At least not yet. But Penn State still controls its own destiny. As long as it keeps winning, it should continue inching closer to the top 4.
Regardless, there’s a lot of football left to be played. These projections tend to change every week. And, as we like to remind readers, the AP Poll offers a nice barometer to how experts are currently feeling about Penn State, before the playoff committee releases its first set of rankings Nov. 5.
The committee’s rankings are the ones that really matter. But, with three more weeks until then, the AP Poll offers some value — although it’s worth reminding Penn State was unranked in Week 7 of the 2016 season and, a month later, was a top-10 team. A lot can happen in a short period of time.
In the current AP Poll, Penn State remains in solid position compared to the rest of the conference. Ohio State is still the team to beat as it came in ranked No. 4 — followed by Wisconsin (No. 6), Penn State (No. 7), Michigan (No. 16), Minnesota (No. 20) and Iowa (No. 23).
The next AP Poll will be released 2 p.m. Oct. 20.
The full top-25 rankings are below:
1. Alabama 1,503
2. LSU 1,449
3. Clemson 1,427
4. Ohio State 1,404
5. Oklahoma 1,333
6. Wisconsin 1,245
7. Penn State 1,129
8. Notre Dame 1,042
9. Florida 1,041
10. Georgia 995
11. Auburn 985
12. Oregon 906
13. Utah 729
14. Boise State 716
15. Texas 672
16. Michigan 648
17. Arizona State 524
18. Baylor 470
19. SMU 398
20. Minnesota 330
21. Cincinnati 308
22. Missouri 233
23. Iowa 210
24. Appalachian State 148
25. Washington 107
Others receiving votes: Tulane 55, Iowa State 36, Temple 31, Wake Forest 25, California 20, Virginia 8, Memphis 6, USC 4, South Carolina 4, Texas A&M 3, UCF 3, San Diego State 2, Louisiana Tech 1