Penn State was ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press preseason top-25 poll, which was released Monday.
Defending national champion Clemson was voted No. 1, receiving 52 of the 62 first-place votes submitted by members of a media panel. Alabama picked up the other 10 first-place votes and held second.
The Nittany Lions, who were ranked 17th at the end of last season after finishing with a 9-4 record including a loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl, were one of four Big Ten East Division teams, and seven Big Ten Conference teams overall, ranked in the top 25.
Two members of the Big Ten East, Ohio State at No. 5 and seventh-ranked Michigan, were ranked higher than the Lions. The poll included three Big Ten teams in a row — Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa at 18, 19 and 20 — while Nebraska came in at No. 24 following a season when the Cornhuskers went 4-8.
Penn State will play Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State on the road this season, and Michigan at home.
The Nittany Lions were ranked 14th in the coaches poll released earlier this month by USA Today.
Penn State will start the season with a new starting quarterback who will replace Trace McSorley. McSorley led the Nittany Lions to a 31-9 record in his three years as the starter, and redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford and redshirt freshman Will Levis are battling to fill that spot.
The Lions are a young team with just 10 seniors on the roster. The entire Penn State roster, counting walk-ons, shows 38 sophomores and redshirt sophomores, and 52 freshmen and redshirt freshmen.
The defense is strong and deep at defensive end, linebacker, and cornerback. Imhotep Charter graduate Shaka Toney and returning All-Big Ten player Yetur Gross-Matos are expected to start at end. Linebacker Micah Parsons, who led the team in tackles last season despite starting just one game, is entrenched at outside linebacker.
Cornerback John Reid, a St. Joseph’s Prep graduate, is leading the contingent at cornerback.
The Nittany Lions open their season with three straight nonconference home games, beginning Aug. 31 against Idaho.
Georgia was ranked No. 3 in the preseason poll with Oklahoma fourth and Ohio State fifth. Louisiana State came in sixth followed by Michigan. Florida, Notre Dame and Texas rounded out the top 10.
Oregon, Texas A&M, Washington, and Utah preceded Penn State from Nos. 11 through 14. Auburn was voted 16th, with Central Florida and the three Big Ten teams rounding out the top 20.