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Jan. 9, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State has capped its thrilling 2008 season by earning its 22nd Top 10 ranking under Coach Joe Paterno.
The Nittany Lions (11-2) were No. 8 in the final Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, which were released early this morning. Penn State earned its 34th final Top 25 ranking under the Hall of Fame coach.
Penn State captured its second Big Ten title and Bowl Championship Series berth in the past four years during the 2008 season. The Nittany Lions won at least 11 games for the 14th time under Paterno. The Lions saw their three-game bowl winning streak snapped by USC in the 95th Rose Bowl. The Trojans (12-1) finished No. 2 in the final USA Today Coaches poll and No. 3 in the AP poll.
Penn State has earned one of the nation's Top 10 records since the start of the 2005 season, posting a 40-11 (78.4) mark, good for No. 9 nationally. The Nittany Lions have won 42 of their last 53 games overall, dating to the final two games of the 2004 season.
Five Penn State opponents earned a spot in the final 2008 rankings (AP/Coaches): USC (3/2), Ohio State (9/11), Oregon State (18/19), Iowa (20/20) and Michigan State (24/24).
The Nittany Lions have 13 Top 5 finishes under all-time Division I-A victories leader (383), 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 that finished No. 2 in the polls. The 12-0 squad in 1973 was No. 5 in the final polls.
Paterno, who owns a 383-127-3 record in 43 seasons, also is the all-time leader in bowl wins (23) and appearances (35). His 67.1 bowl winning percentage (23-11-1) is third-highest all-time among coaches with at least 12 post-season appearances.
The Nittany Lions have the nation's second-best bowl winning percentage at 65.8, earning a 26-13-2 post-season record. Penn State is third nationally in bowl victories and has a 9-3 record in bowl games since starting Big Ten competition in 1993.
The Nittany Lions return 12 starters for the 2009 season, (5 offense, 5 defense, 1 specialist), as well as 10 players that have starting experience, including linebacker Sean Lee, who took a medical redshirt in 2008.
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