The State Beat Writer Josh Kendall Explains Why He Put Penn State No. 3 In AP Poll
Most Associated Press voters kept the Lions at No. 8 in this week’s AP Top 25 Poll. Some put the Lions at No. 9. Some, although noticeably fewer, even put the Lions at No. 10, while one felt the need to put them all the way at No. 17. But one voter shook up the landscape and put the Lions all the way at No. 3 while dropping Michigan all the way to No. 9. Of course, that caught our eye, so we tracked down this voter to find out exactly why he placed Penn State so high.
Josh Kendall, beat writer for Columbia, South Carolina-based newspaper The State, is all about momentum. Penn State has it, and Michigan’s lost it, according to him — which factored greatly into his decision to rank the Lions where nobody else dared to go. “Penn State followed up its win against Ohio State and hasn’t looked back,” Kendall said. “I think the Big Ten East is the best division in college football, and Penn State has simply put itself in a fantastic position over the last few weeks.”
He went on to add that these rankings reflect his feelings on both teams’ momentum. If one — say, Penn State — were to fall off, it’d be appropriately reflected in the rankings, Kendall said.
But what about Michigan, who everybody still has among the pantheon of college football giants? Again, it goes back to the idea of momentum. “They haven’t looked great to me,” Kendall said. “They haven’t been able to run the ball as effectively as in the past; momentum is extremely important. When that momentum stopped, they simply haven’t been able to get it back. They don’t feel or look like a top team.”
Kendall makes a good point. Since blowing out Maryland three weeks ago, the Wolverines haven’t been the same. After losing to Iowa, they needed to muster every ounce of grit to take down Indiana at home — casting doubt on their ability to take down Ohio State in the regular season finale.
Most voters might agree but wouldn’t go so far as dropping the Wolverines to No. 9, but just like with the Lions, if Kendall sees a noticeable change on Saturday, that’ll be appropriately reflected in his new poll.
As someone who covers South Carolina football, Kendall knows a thing or two about the Gamecocks. So, we asked him about their chances against No. 4 Clemson on Saturday — a game that could significantly affect Penn State’s playoff chances if the Lions were to advance to the Big Ten Championship Game. “I don’t love South Carolina’s chances,” Kendall said. “The truth is, they haven’t played well on the road, and haven’t run the ball well. Their quarterback is still a freshman, and don’t have an advantage in many categories. However, I don’t think they’ll get blown out. They should make things interesting.” Surely Penn State fans across the country will be paying close attention to that outcome.
This Saturday is one of the most important days Penn State football’s had in recent memory. Only time will tell if that momentum can be maintained.