For the first time since the 1990s, Penn State secured a third-straight finish in the AP Top 25 Poll.
The Nittany Lions landed at No. 17 in the final AP Poll, which was announced Tuesday, falling four spots after losing to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.
Penn State (9-4, 6-3 Big Ten) picked up its lowest season-ending finish of this three-year resurgence under James Franklin. The Nittany Lions were No. 7 in the final 2016 AP Poll after a thrilling, yet heartbreaking loss in the Rose Bowl to USC. They capped last year’s double-digit win campaign with a victory over Washington in the Fiesta Bowl and a No. 8 ranking.
And despite defeat in Orlando, Penn State wrapped up the Trace McSorley era with a third-consecutive placing in the AP Poll — the first time that’s happened in Happy Valley since 1997-99.
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Four of Penn State’s 2018 opponents joined the Nittany Lions in the poll. Ohio State finished No. 3, behind Clemson and Alabama, respectively. Kentucky moved up to No. 12, the Wildcats’ fourth-highest finish in program history. Michigan dropped to No. 14 after being blown out by Florida in the Peach Bowl, and Iowa closed out the rankings at No. 25 following a Outback Bowl win over Joe Moorhead’s Mississippi State.
Appalachian State missed out on the top 25, but led the “others receiving votes” category.
The full top-25 rankings are listed below:
1. Clemson (61 first-place votes)
3. Ohio State
5. Notre Dame
10. Washington State
16. Texas A&M
17. Penn State
18. Fresno State
20. West Virginia
22. Utah State
23. Boise State
Others receiving votes: Appalachian State 96, Stanford 52, Mississippi State 45, Utah 43, UAB 32, Iowa State 26, Auburn 15, Oregon 11, Missouri 10, Troy 6, Georgia Southern 6, Oklahoma State 3, NC State 2, Wisconsin 2
Dropped from rankings: Mississippi State 18, Utah 20, Missouri 24, Iowa State 25