Where does Penn State stand in the latest College Football Playoff rankings
Penn State needs help to reach the New Year’s 6 bowl game after the latest version of the College Football Playoff rankings. But luckily for the Lions, there is help.
Penn State (9-2) remained at No. 11 in the Week 4 CFP rankings, with four SEC teams still ahead of it. That includes No. 10 Tennessee, which lost to South Carolina last week 63-28, and also lost quarterback Handon Hooker to a torn ACL.
This ranking is important to Penn State’s ability to play in the Orange or Cotton bowls. The Rose Bowl remains a possibility if Michigan and Ohio State make the playoffs.
Here’s an updated look at Penn State’s bowl options after the Nov. 22 ranking update.
- If: January 2
- Where: Pasadena, California
- Match: Big Ten vs. Pac-12
- What to see: Pennsylvania needs Ohio State and Michigan in the playoffs to reach the Rose Bowl. That opportunity improved with South Carolina’s win over Tennessee, which dropped to No. 10 and out of playoff contention. To help solidify that path, Penn State could now use losses to TCU and/or USC in the coming weeks. And no LSU upset Georgia in the SEC title game. At this point, the committee ranks Ohio State and Michigan over TCU. “We are watching [TCU’s] the ability to come back in games that largely didn’t have Ohio State and Michigan,” CFP chairman Boo Corrigan said. That could come into play if Michigan and Ohio State turn into a thriller on Saturday.
- If: December 30
- Where: Miami Gardens, Florida
- Match: ACC vs top ranked SEC/Big Ten/Notre Dame team
- What to see: The committee’s decision this week to rank Tennessee over Penn State is significant. If the Vols win the regular season finale and stay ahead of the Lions, they will earn a bid to the Orange Bowl. Not even Hooker’s season-ending injury changed the committee’s decision. “That’s something we all recognized in the room, but it’s not something that led us to a different conclusion,” Corrigan said of Tennessee’s ranking. Also of note is that LSU is ranked No. 5, meaning the committee could put the Tigers ahead of Pennsylvania if they lose a close game to Georgia. Penn State can’t go to the Orange Bowl with the top three SEC teams unless two make the playoffs.
- If: January 2
- Where: Arlington, Texas
- Match: The highest ranked team vs. the team from the group of five
- What to see: Tennessee State, which sits above Penn State, also reduced the Lions’ Cotton Bowl chances. At least for now. Penn State needs to be the top-ranked team in two weeks to return to the Cotton Bowl. Instead, it could be Tennessee or possibly USC if it finishes 11-2, losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game. However, it is fluid given the potential for upsets in the next two weeks. The Cotton Bowl bid also includes one Big Ten team’s playoff bid.
A bowl of citrus fruits
- If: January 2
- Where: Orlando
- Match: Big Ten vs. SEC
- What to see: Tennessee’s ranking makes this a more likely destination for Penn State. Again, at least for now. James Franklin will be rooting for his former team, Vanderbilt, to upset Tennessee this weekend. Ole Miss is a possible opponent that could change if Lane Kiffin leaves for Auburn.
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Penn State hosts Michigan State on Senior Day Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM ET on FS1.
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