For the first time since 2009, Penn State’s Nittany Lions are heading into Big Ten play as a top-5 program. And with a berth in the College Football Playoff locked squarely in their sights.
The Nittany Lions (3-0) were ranked No. 4 in The Associated Press Top 25 poll released Sunday afternoon, coming off the heels of a 56-0 thrashing of Georgia State the evening before.
It’s the highest ranking of any Big Ten program for a second consecutive week and a reflection of a dominant September. The Nittany Lions have outscored Akron, Pitt and Georgia State by an aggregate of 141-14, or an average margin of 47-5.
Penn State moved up to No. 4 from No. 5 in the Amway Coaches Poll released earlier Sunday.
USC, the No. 4 team in the AP poll last week, held off Texas (1-2) 27-24. The top 3 teams in the AP Top 25 last week, No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Clemson, won comfortably Saturday, as did Washington, which was No. 6 last week.
The argument over the No. 4 slot in the polls — and, presumably, the final slot in the CFP — shapes up to be a heated one over the next few months, assuming the Tide, Sooners and Tigers keep up their pace.
My Top 4 after week 3
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) September 17, 2017
The Nittany Lions have been ranked in the top 5 for three consecutive weeks, something the program last accomplished in 2008 (four straight). Penn State was among the AP top 5 for five consecutive weeks in 2005.
The program’s all-time record consecutive top-5 placements is 17 polls, set in 1968-69 and matched from 1977-79.
Penn State visits Iowa (3-0) on Saturday. The Nittany Lions have won three in a row in the series dating to 2011, tying the longest streak against the Hawkeyes while both have been members of the Big Ten. Penn State owned a four-game winning streak in the series from 1984 to 1995 — three of which were intraleague matchups — and a five-game run from 1971-75.