Penn State is 5-3. All three losses have come against teams in the Sagarin top 26. All 5 wins came against teams ranked lower than that.
The following is a list of teams ranked in the AP Poll who have not beaten a team in the Sagarin top 26:
19. Oklahoma State
20. Virginia Tech
21. Mississippi State
24. Florida State
Since none of these teams can honestly claim to have a win better than PSU's worst loss, let's compare our best wins:
Unranked and not getting any votes Penn State:
Wins over teams in the Sagarin top 51: 2, Michigan (#46) and Temple (#51)
2, Pittsburgh (#37) and Iowa State (#45)
1, Texas A&M (#34)
#19 Oklahoma State:
3, Texas A&M, Kansas State (#35), Texas Tech (#49)
#20 Virginia Tech:
1, #30 NC State
#21 Mississippi State:
1, #31 Florida
2, Kansas State, Texas (#39)
#24 Florida State
1, #32 Miami-FL
So out of the 7(!) teams ranked in the AP top 25 who are in the same boat as PSU in terms of lacking a top 26 win, only 1 has more wins against numbers 27-51, and 4 have less. I'm not out to say PSU should be ranked. What I am out to say is that our resume is not that much, if any, worse than several teams that are ranked. It might actually be better.
Did I choose arbitrary cutoff points? Yes. Does that matter as far as illustrating my point? No. And my point is this: this team can be decent. Maybe it already is. Top 25 decent. On a team that (1) had to replace as much as PSU did from last year, (2) is as young as PSU is, (3) got as injured as PSU did, and (4)had as brutal of a schedule as PSU did.
That is not a disappointment. That's good. So when PSU is down at halftime tomorrow and the FIRE JOEPAs of the world come out of the woodwork to rear their ugly little internet faces once again, just remember: PSU is doing as well as could possibly be expected under the circumstances, and better than many who are currently ranked. If PSU finishes this year 9-3 or even 8-4, this is exactly the type of season an average coach would've gone 4-8 in.