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Penn State Football: Lions Jump to No. 12 in Polls; Nebraska Kick-off at Noon

by on November 06, 2011 7:15 PM

Twelve is apparently the number for Penn State football this week.

The Nittany Lions jumped to No. 12 in all four rankings released on Sunday – the USA Today Coaches, the Harris Interactive College Football and The Associated Press polls, plus the BCS standings.

The USA Today and Harris polls each comprise one-third of the Bowl Championship Series rankings; the final third is the average of six computer ratings.

On Sunday, those computer rankings averaged 16th after throwing out the high (13) and low (19) ratings -- the remaining four computer ratings had PSU 14, 16, 16 and 18.

The Nittany Lions (8-1, 5-0 in the Big Ten) did not play on Saturday, yet jumped ahead of Nebraska, South Carolina, Michigan and Michigan State in the AP rankings. All but Michigan State lost on Saturday.

Penn State is the highest-ranked team in the Big Ten Conference, since Nebraska dropped from No. 9 last week to No. 17 in the USA Today and Harris polls, and No. 19 in the BCS and AP rankings. The Cornhuskers (7-2, 3-2) lost 28-25 to Northwestern, a 17-point underdog, in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday.

PENN STATE-NEBRASKA KICK-OFF AT NOON

Penn State will take its No. 12 rankings into its next game, against Nebraska – the 12th member of the Big Ten Conference playing in their very first season -- this Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

That game will start at 12 noon, not the 3:30 p.m. kick-off many had hoped would be the case for Penn State’s final home of the season.

The matchup between Penn State and Nebraska lost its luster over the weekend when the Huskers lost to Northwestern and the Jerry Sandusky charges rocked the country.

So who gets the 3:30 p.m. slot?

ABC/ESPN contests slated for the 3:30 p.m. window are Miami (Fla.) at Florida State, Michigan at Illinois and Texas A&M at Kansas State.

A 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. kick-off is not an option: The Big Ten Conference does not allow its teams to play evening contests in the month of November, due to weather and travel considerations.

And those hopes for an ESPN College GameDay appearance outside Beaver Stadium this Saturday? Eighty-six them. Chris Fowler and Co. are headed to Palo Alto, Calif., where No. 4 Stanford hosts No. 8 Oregon.

PSU LEADS HUSKERS SERIES

Penn State and Nebraska will be facing off the 14th time, and the first time since the Huskers joined the Big Ten. Penn State leads the series 7-6. The Nittany Lions lost 18-10 at 18th-ranked Nebraska in 2003, but won 40-7 at home in 2002, when Nebraska entered the game ranked No. 8 and Penn State was No. 25.

The most historic game of the series came in 1982, when eighth-ranked Penn State beat second-ranked Nebraska 27-24 on a last-minute drive that featured a controversial catch by tight end Mike McCloskey, who may – or may not -- have grabbed a pass from Todd Blackledge just before going out of bounds along the Penn State sidelines in the southeast corner of Beaver Stadium.

On Nov. 19, after facing Nebraska, Penn State plays unranked Ohio State, then finishes its regular season against Wisconsin, 16th in the AP poll and 14th in both the USA Today and Harris polls.

Ohio State and Wisconsin are both 3-2 in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten Conference, while Penn State is 5-0. To complete the regular season, Ohio State is at Purdue, hosts Penn State then travels to Michigan. Wisconsin’s final three games are at Minnesota, at Illinois and at home against Penn State.

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979. He is a senior lecturer in Penn State's College of Communications and teaches a pair of classes in the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism: “Sports Writing” and “Introduction to the Sports Industry.” He created and taught for several years the Center’s course on “Joe Paterno, Communications and The Media.” Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PSUPoorman. His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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