What Penn State Should Expect From Second College Football Playoff Rankings


 After the first release of the 2016 College Football Playoff rankings, the top 10 endured one of the wildest weekends of the season.

With some major upsets shaking up the top 10, a lot of teams are waiting to see where they sit in the eyes of the College Football Playoff committee. One team hoping to crack the top 10 for the first time since 2009 is Penn State.

The Nittany Lions started the 2016 season off on a roller coaster. Coming into the season with the highest potential the program has had in years, Penn State started 2016 slow and fell out of the eyes of most of the college football world. That all stopped when the Lions claimed the biggest upset of the season with a 24-21 win over Ohio State.

Now, Penn State finds themselves sitting at No. 12 in the latest AP Poll, hoping each win is worthy of moving them into the top 10, and eventually into the top four. With their second 20-plus point victory, the Nittany Lions may have done just enough to take advantage of the wild weekend.

So, what should Penn State expect Tuesday night as the College Football Playoff rankings are released? Well, they should expect a move. With Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Florida all losing over the weekend, Penn State is grinning ear to ear waiting to see how far they’ve moved up.

Realistically, there’s no doubt Penn State stays out of the top 10. With No. 10 Nebraska and No. 11 Florida both losing, PSU has first dibs on the No. 10 spot. No. 13 LSU also added another loss to their season with a 10-0 loss to Alabama, which means Penn State is sitting pretty as the favorite to move at least two places.

As exciting as it is for Penn State to finally crack the top 10, the biggest question is whether or not they’ll stop at 10. The College Football Playoff committee seems to like Penn State’s upset over Ohio State, and dominant win over Purdue. How they’ll feel about a 27-point win over 5-4 Iowa is unknown.

Iowa isn’t an impressive win. At this point, they’re hoping to pull out a bowl appearance. That doesn’t mean it’s a pointless victory. A 27-point deficit for any sport is a blowout. You’ve proved your dominance by scoring 41 points while keeping the opponent under 20 points. What Penn State showed for the second straight week is that they’ve moved out of the middle of the pack.

You have to expect a margin of victory this large is going to shine in the eyes of the committee. This win should shine bright enough to move Penn State up, but how far?

Texas A&M’s loss is much more important that it looks. The Aggies have lost two of their last three games. Of course, Alabama isn’t a loss that has much effect on most teams, but losing to Mississippi State is a significant blow to the program.

Texas A&M should drop out of the top five but could find themselves falling even farther. Over the last three weeks, the team has looked unimpressive. What we’ve learned from the College Football Playoff committee is that how you look has an impact on how you rank. In other words, don’t be surprised if Texas A&M find themselves at the bottom end of the top 10, or out of the top 10 by Wednesday morning.

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For Penn State, where A&M falls will determine how high they move up. If Texas A&M find themselves on the outside of the top 10 looking in, Penn State should find themselves near number eight or nine. That’s right Penn State, for the first time in seven years, you may find yourself competing for a National Championship spot.

At this point, it’ll take a miracle for Penn State to make the Big Ten Championship. With help, though, the Nittany Lions may find themselves hearing their name called in the top four by the start of the College Football Playoff.