CBS Sports released its full FBS rankings of all 130 programs, and sees a sharp turnaround for the Nittany Lions following the 4-5 season in 2020. Penn State came in at #17, which is the third-highest ranking among Big Ten programs.
Penn State was marked as a “notable mover” after jumping up 37 spots since the final 2020 poll. Chip Patterson of CBS Sports had this to say about the optimistic view heading into the fall:
Now on his third offensive coordinator in as many years, quarterback Sean Clifford is tasked with meeting high expectations thanks to Penn State becoming a trendy pick as one of the year’s top bounce-back candidates following a 4-5 showing in 2020. The roster is talented. With injuries and opt-outs playing a huge role in last season’s struggles, a deeper dive into the results shows a team that wasn’t outplayed by too many of its opponents.
Penn State’s week one opponent, Wisconsin, appeared at #14, while Ohio State was the top-ranked Big Ten squad at #4. To the surprise of absolutely no one, Alabama and Clemson held the top two spots, with Oklahoma at #3.
Iowa came in one spot behind Penn State at #18, followed by Indiana at #24. As far as the rest of the Big Ten:
In regards to Penn State’s two FBS non-conference opponents, Auburn stands at #30, while week two opponent and defending MAC champs Ball State is ranked #50.