college football

Penn State ranked No. 7 in initial College Football Playoff rankings

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USA Today Images

Penn State ranked No. 7 in initial College Football Playoff rankings

The first College Football Playoff rankings of the season were released Tuesday night and Penn State was nowhere to be found in the top four.

After leading by as many as 18 points last Saturday at Ohio State, the Nittany Lions allowed three fourth-quarter touchdowns to J.T. Barrett for a 39-38 loss.

As a result, Penn State fell to No. 7 in the AP Poll — its worst position of the season — and landed in the same spot of the College Football Playoff rankings.

While the Nittany Lions are on the outside looking in, Georgia is peering down at the rest from the No. 1 perch, followed by Alabama, Notre Dame and Clemson.

Oklahoma and Ohio State were the next two in the selection committee's initial top 25. The final rankings that will determine the participants in the College Football Playoff semifinals come out Dec. 3.

Georgia and Alabama, Southeastern Conference rivals, are both undefeated and have been dominating its competition. The Bulldogs' one close game was at Notre Dame in September, a 20-19 victory.

The Fighting Irish (7-1) have not lost since, including blowouts of Michigan State, Southern California and North Carolina State.

Clemson (7-1), the defending national champion, and Alabama have been ranked in the initial top four of the by the selection committee each of the last three seasons. The Tigers and Tide played for the last two national titles, with each winning one.

Over the first three seasons of the playoff, a total of five teams have been ranked in the top four of the initial ranking and gone on to reach the semifinals: Florida State (which was second) in 2014; Clemson (first) and Alabama (fourth) in 2015; and Alabama (first) and Clemson (second) in 2016.

After Penn State, the rest of the top 10 was followed by No. 8 TCU, No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 10 Miami. The Badgers and Hurricanes are both undefeated but with no marquee victories.

Here is the Top 25:

Villanova, No. 13 in FCS, falls to No. 10 Elon

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Villanova, No. 13 in FCS, falls to No. 10 Elon

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, Pa. — Davis Cheek was 24-for-35 passing for 357 yards and two TDs, Kortez Weeks had 11 receptions for 205 yards and Elon beat Villanova 19-14 on Saturday for its seventh straight victory.

Trailing 14-10, Cheek completed 3 for 4 passes, including back-to-back tosses for 30 and 12 yards to Tre Lennon and a 21-yard score to Tre Marsh to make it 16-14. The point-after try failed.

Elon's defense forced Villanova to punt, and on the Phoenix's next drive, Owen Johnson made a 28-yard field goal for the game's final margin with 4:45 left to play. Villanova turned the ball over on downs on its final drive.

The Wildcats grabbed their last lead of the game when Kyle McCloskey threw a 24-yard touchdown to Taurus Phillips with less than a minute to play in the third.

Despite Cheek's two interceptions, Elon (7-1, 5-0 Colonial Athletic Association) piled 474 yards in total offense. McCloskey threw for 137 yards and two TDs for Villanova (4-4, 2-3).

No. 2 Penn State at No. 6 Ohio State: Just about everything at stake

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

No. 2 Penn State at No. 6 Ohio State: Just about everything at stake

No. 2 Penn State (7-0, 4-0 Big Ten) at No. 6 Ohio State (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten)
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., FOX

Scouting Penn State
The second-ranked Nittany Lions drilled No. 19 Michigan, 42-13, as Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley scored three touchdowns apiece. Barkley, a Heisman candidate, became the first Nittany Lion and fourth Big Ten player with 3,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his career, but the first Big Ten player to amass such totals in just his third season. Barkley, who had 176 all-purpose yards against the Wolverines, leads the FBS in that department at 211.1 per game. He was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, and middle linebacker Jason Cabinda earned the defensive distinction for his 13-tackle performance. PSU’s defense is allowing an FBS-best 9.6 points per game, and leads the Big Ten with 24 sacks.

Scouting Ohio State
The sixth-ranked Buckeyes, idle last week, have won five in a row since a Sept. 9 loss to Oklahoma, and have notched 54 points or more in the last four games. OSU is second in the FBS in scoring offense (47.3) and third in total offense (577.3). Quarterback J.T. Barrett leads the Big Ten in total offense (313.9) and passing efficiency, having clicked on 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,838 yards and 21 touchdowns. He has been intercepted just once. Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins has rushed for 775 yards (7.8 per carry), the conference’s second-highest total. The top receivers are K.J. Hill and Parris Campbell, with 28 catches apiece. OSU is allowing just 109.6 yards on the ground but has been somewhat forgiving through the air, surrendering 195.7 yards a game.

History
Ohio State leads the all-time series, 18-14, but Penn State ended a four-game losing streak to the Buckeyes last October, beating them, 24-21, on a blocked field-goal return late in the game.

Storyline to watch
The Lions were off the week before facing the Buckeyes in 2016, while OSU had a tough game against Wisconsin. Coincidence or not, Ohio State wilted in the fourth quarter against PSU. This year, it is the Buckeyes who are coming off their bye, while the Lions had that game against Michigan. PSU coach James Franklin said Tuesday it is an apples-and-oranges comparison, since last week’s game was one-sided and he was able to rest guys. But we shall see.

What's at stake
Only, like, everything — leadership in the Big Ten East, prime positioning for the conference championship game and the College Football Playoff, etc.

Prediction
Coin-flip game, but let’s ride the home field/bye/revenge angle.

Ohio State 28, Penn State 24