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Jan. 8, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Victories in three of its last four games, including its third consecutive bowl win, has earned Penn State its 33rd Top 25 ranking under Coach Joe Paterno.
The Nittany Lions were No. 25 in the final USA Today Coaches poll, which was released early this morning. Penn State was second among teams also receiving votes in the Associated Press Top 25.
Penn State has won 31 of its last 40 games overall, dating to the final two games of the 2004 season. Over the past three seasons, the Nittany Lions are 29-9 (76.3), tied with Auburn for 13th nationally in winning percentage.
Penn State completed a 9-4 season by rallying from a 14-0 first quarter deficit to defeat Texas A&M, 24-17, in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29. The Nittany Lions limited the Aggies to three points over the final three quarters and gained 413 yards, including a season-high 270 rushing yards.
Texas A&M became the seventh opponent to score 17 or fewer points against the Nittany Lions this season.
The Nittany Lions won nine or more games for the 27th time under Paterno.
Four Penn State opponents earned a spot in the final 2007 rankings: Ohio State (5/4), Michigan (18/19), Illinois (20/18) and Wisconsin (24/21). The Nittany Lions will play all four teams, as well as Oregon State (No. 25 AP), during the 2008 season.
Penn State has earned 21 Top 10 finishes under Paterno. The Nittany Lions have 13 Top 5 finishes under the Hall of Fame coach, most recently No. 3 in 2005 (11-1). The Lions won national championships in 1982 and '86 and have had undefeated teams in 1968, '69 and '94. The 12-0 squad in 1973 was No. 5 in the final polls.
Paterno, who owns a 372-125-3 record in 42 seasons, also added to his all-time bowl records. He owns a 23-10-1 mark in bowl games (69.1) and is the leader in post-season wins (23) and appearances (34). Paterno ranks No. 2 all-time in victories among major college coaches (Bobby Bowden, 373) and has the second-best bowl winning percentage all-time among coaches with at least 12 post-season appearances.
The Nittany Lions have the nation's second-best bowl winning percentage at 67.5, earning a 26-12-2 post-season record. Penn State is third nationally in bowl victories and has a 9-2 record in bowl games since starting Big Ten competition in 1993.
The Nittany Lions return 20 starters for the 2008 season, (8 offense, 10 defense, 2 specialists).