Penn State moves up in national polls after shutting out Maryland

Penn State moves up in national polls after shutting out Maryland

Penn State got a nice little bump in a pair of prominent national polls Sunday. A couple teams ranked ahead of the Nittany Lions lost, but they still held up their end of the bargain by taking care of business with a 30-0 win over Maryland, and the voters rewarded them.

Penn State is ranked No. 11 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 12 in the USA Today Sports AFCA Coaches Poll, both of which were released Sunday.

Penn State entered Saturday’s game against Maryland at No. 14 in the AP Top 25 and No. 15 in the Coaches Poll. The Nittany Lions were also ranked No. 14 in last week’s College Football Playoff rankings. The latest edition of those will be released Tuesday.

Penn State (8-2, 6-2 Big Ten) is one of only three Big Ten teams to be ranked after Illinois dropped out of both polls following its loss to Purdue on Saturday. Ohio State checks in at No. 2 in both polls, while Michigan is close behind its rival at No. 3. The Buckeyes beat Indiana on Saturday, while the Wolverines dispatched Nebraska.

Ohio State and Michigan remain the only ranked opponents Penn State has faced this season, and the Nittany Lions fell to both the Buckeyes (44-31 on Oct. 29) and the Wolverines (41-17 on Oct. 15) earlier this season.

Read more: Chop Robinson sacks former teammate Taulia Tagovailoa twice as Penn State routs Maryland

Penn State has rebounded well from those two losses, which came in a three-week span last month. Last week, the Nittany Lions beat Indiana, 45-14, on the road, and then they followed it up with Saturday’s win over Maryland.

Penn State has leaned on its defense and its running game during those two wins. The Nittany Lions have 25 tackles for loss and 13 sacks over the past two weeks, and the defense allowed 2.68 yards per play in the victories.

Running back Kaytron Allen carried the load in the win against Indiana and scored three touchdowns, but it was freshman classmate Nick Singleton who starred against Maryland. Singleton carried 11 times for 122 yards with touchdown runs of 27 and 45 yards, both of which came on fourth-and-1 plays.

“Whenever you have people (like that), whether it’s at wide receiver, or running back, or tight end, or on the opposite side of the ball, it scares people,” coach james franklin said postgame. “It impacts the defense, and it impacts the defensive coordinator because they know if they make a mistake, it could go for 50 or go for 60 at any point. That has really helped our offense this year. I believe in that. We have really done a good job of committing to short-yardage situations and are getting better at it. That’s something we haven’t done here recently, so that’s been a real positive for us this year.”

Penn State has a solid chance to run its winning streak to three games when it visits Rutgers for the 11th game of the season at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, NJ That game will kick off at 3:30 pm, the Big Ten announced, and it will be televised on Big Ten Network.

Read more: Top Takes as Penn State Chops down Maryland in easy win

Daniel Gallen covers Penn State for Lions247 and 247Sports. He can be reached at Follow Daniel on Twitter at @danieljtgallen.

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