Penn State soared in an updated Associated Press Top 25 Poll published Tuesday afternoon following the conclusion of a Week 1 college football schedule that stretched into Monday night. Locked in weekly Sunday reveals moving forward, these national rankings sent the Nittany Lions from No. 19 to No. 11.
Penn State opened its 2021 campaign with a 16-10 road win at Wisconsin, who was ranked 12th in the preseason AP Poll.
“Overall, a gutsy win on the road against a really good opponent; a top-20 ranked opponent,” Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin said on Saturday. “I think our kids willed it to happen today. … Pay a ton of respect to the University of Wisconsin and their football program. I’d never been here before. It’s a beautiful place. It’s a tough place, so we’re fortunate to get out of here with a win. A ton of respect for those guys.”
As a result of the loss, Wisconsin dropped to No. 18. Overall, these rankings feature four Big Ten programs: No 3 Ohio State, No. 10 Iowa, No. 11 Penn State, and No. 18 Wisconsin. Initially at No. 17 in preseason rankings, Indiana fell out of the Top 25 following a 34-6 loss at Iowa.
Penn State will host the Hoosiers on the first Saturday of October before making trips to Iowa and Ohio State later that month.
The updated AP Top 25 is led by reigning national champion Alabama, who thrashed Miami in their opener. Fellow SEC contender Georgia follows the Crimson Tide, vaulting up from No. 5 after defeating Clemson, who slides from No. 3 to No. 6. As mentioned, Ohio State is the new No. 3, while Oklahoma and Texas A&M respectively round out the top five.
After spending four full years in the AP Top 25, dating back to October 2016, Penn State had built a streak of weekly appearances bested by only Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. That span came to an end after Penn State began 2020 with two consecutive losses.
Another three ensuing defeats last fall ensured the Nittany Lions would remain outside of national rankings despite closing a difficult campaign with four consecutive wins, which each featured a double-digit score margin.
However, late-season momentum, staff moves, and positive offseason personnel outcomes helped make a case for Penn State’s inclusion in preseason Top 25 polls. The performance in Madison last Saturday validated that outlook.
“It’s a great team win,” Franklin said. “I’m super proud. We faced a lot of adversity to come in here and get this win. We’re very proud.”
Now riding a five-game win streak dating back to last November, the Nittany Lions return home to host Ball State in Beaver Stadium on Saturday. This is the first of four consecutive matchups on campus.
Auburn, now ranked 25th, comes to town Sept. 18. Ball State is in the AP Poll’s “others receiving votes” category.