Penn State held on to the No. 12 spot Tuesday night in the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings for 2018.
The Nittany Lions (9-3) kept their same ranking from last week after a 38-3 victory over Maryland on Saturday and remained alive to gain a third consecutive invitation to a New Year's Six bowl after the final rankings are released on Sunday.
Alabama, Clemson, and Notre Dame each remained in the top three positions, while Georgia moved up one notch to No. 4 to replace Michigan, which fell to No. 7 after being crushed, 62-39, by Ohio State. Oklahoma was ranked fifth, followed by the Buckeyes, who jumped from 10th.
The CFP selection committee jumped Washington over Penn State into 11th place after the Huskies' win over Washington State, with the Cougars slipping to No. 13. The Huskies were one of three teams with three losses – joining ninth-ranked Florida and No. 10 Louisiana State – that were ranked above the Lions.
While the Nittany Lions sit idle, their bowl destination will likely be influenced by the results of this weekend's conference championship games. Wins by Ohio State over Northwestern in the Big Ten title contest, and by Clemson over Pittsburgh in the ACC, will help them secure a New Year's Six bid, probably the Peach Bowl on Dec. 30 in Atlanta.
Oklahoma's rematch against Texas in the Big 12 championship game also will have an effect. The Sooners would need to win while remaining at No. 5 and going to the Sugar Bowl. Should Oklahoma reach the playoff, the Sugar Bowl is contractually obligated to take another Big 12 team, one not in the top 12 currently. That scenario could land Penn State in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
The Sooners would have a good chance at the playoff should they defeat Texas and Alabama defeats Georgia in the SEC title game. But Ohio State can't be counted out if it gains a convincing victory over Northwestern.
All-Big Ten honors for Penn State
Senior cornerback Amani Oruwariye and sophomore defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos received first-team All-Big Ten honors. Oruwariye was named first team in voting by both media and coaches, while Gross-Matos was awarded first-team honors by the media, and third team by the coaches.
Redshirt junior defensive end Shareef Miller (George Washington High School) was named third-team all-conference by both the media and the coaches.
Four players – cornerback John Reid (St. Joseph's Prep), safety Garrett Taylor, defensive tackle Robert Windsor and return specialist K.J. Hamler – received honorable mention recognition by both the media and the coaches. Linebacker Micah Parsons and safety Nick Scott were named honorable mention by the media.
Scott also received the Sportsmanship Award, which is awarded to one player from each of the conference's 14 teams.
The All-Big Ten offensive team will be announced Wednesday.