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Jason Bryant | NWCA | December 20, 2017

North Carolina re-enters Top 25 while Penn State and Ohio State hold down No. 1 and No. 2

  North Carolina topped Nebraska to re-enter the Top 25 heading into the holiday tournaments.

Manheim, Pennsylvania —  The nation’s top five teams have combined to go 34-0 in the first month and a half of the college wrestling season as the final USA Today/NWCA Division I Wrestling Coaches Poll was released on Wednesday for the 2017 calendar year.

RELATED: USA Today/ NWCA Top 25

Penn State (5-0) remains No. 1, while Ohio State (6-0), Oklahoma State (5-0) and Missouri (8-0) maintained their positions over the past week. NC State (10-0) moved up to No. 5, jumping one spot over Lehigh (6-1). The rest of the top ten was unchanged as the Big Ten took three of the four spots at 7-10 with Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan staying put as did No. 10 Virginia Tech from the ACC.

Penn State beat Indiana 44-3 to open up its Big Ten schedule, while Ohio State dropped one individual bout in two neutral site victories. The Buckeyes shut out Princeton prior to the Beast of the East in Newark, Delaware on Friday and then beat Chattanooga 39-3 at The Cooler in suburban Atlanta.

Oklahoma State got a scare on Tuesday night, splitting 10 matches with unranked Wyoming in a battle of Cowboys. The Stillwater-branded Cowboys won the dual 20-15 in a dual that saw two-time NCAA champion Dean Heil have his 55-match win streak snapped by Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith. A day earlier, Oklahoma State topped Northern Colorado 37-4.

NC State won nine out of 10 in Lincoln to beat then-No. 12 Nebraska 29-3. Things got worse for the Huskers as another ACC school came in and stole a victory. North Carolina (2-3) topped the Huskers 22-14 and re-entered the Top 25 at No. 24 this week. The Tar Heels did fall to then-No. 15 Northern Iowa 17-16 on criteria two days later. Nebraska slid six spots to No. 18.

The only other matchup between ranked teams saw No. 23 Central Michigan score a modest 24-10 upset over No. 19 Purdue on Monday. Central Michigan also picked up wins over Northern Illinois and SIU Edwardsville.

MORE: Penn State ready for B1G season

Other ranked teams earning wins last week were: Cornell topping Buffalo 31-6, Oklahoma edging Appalachian State 19-13 and the aforementioned Northern Iowa win over North Carolina. Lock Haven beat Bloomsburg and non-Division I schools Wheeling Jesuit and Messiah to improve to 4-0. North Carolina’s return meant Navy was forced out of the Top 25 one week after making its first appearance since 2008.

Of note, South Dakota State (4-2) is ranked 15th this week, the highest in program history at the Division I level. The Jackrabbits had been ranked as high as 16th on five different occasions, all coming since February 2017.

The next poll will be a Wednesday release on January 3, 2018.

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