Wisconsin, Penn St. try to focus on title game - not playoff
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Paul Chryst and James Franklin left the outside world behind Friday.
As college football pundits continued debating whether two Big Ten teams should make this year's four-team playoff, the two coaches vying for a Big Ten championship Saturday night trained their attention on something less nebulous: Winning one more game.
For No. 6 Wisconsin and No. 8 Penn State, it's not the selection committee that matters right now. It's taking home the trophy and winning the title.
''The only thing that exists for us is Wisconsin and the Big Ten championship game,'' said Franklin, the Penn State coach. ''I'm not going to sit here and make a case for us. Our whole focus will be on Wisconsin and getting ready for this game.''
That may sound good in the confines of a locker room or in a stadium decked out in cardinal and blue. Or at least until Sunday afternoon, when the playoff choices become final.
But even inside Lucas Oil Stadium, it's hard to move beyond the resumes of these teams.
Wisconsin (10-2, No. 6 CFP) earned its fourth division crown in six years with six straight victories and by posting a 3-2 mark against top-10 teams. The only stumbles were a seven-point loss at No. 2 Michigan and an overtime loss to No. 2 Ohio State.
''I think one quality of this team that I've appreciated a ton this year is their ability to make the most of the moment,'' Chryst said of his Badgers. ''They've done a good job of that. So I don't spend any time thinking about what you're asking about (the playoffs). It's not a big deal right now. We'd be doing this game and this team a real disservice if we didn't put all of our energy into it.''
Penn State (10-2, No. 7) is the surprise newcomer to championship weekend.
It got here by winning eight straight since a 39-point drubbing at the hands of Michigan in late September. And while they only played one ranked team during that stretch, they did hand the Buckeyes their only loss of the season.
Franklin declined several times to explain why his own team deserved to play for the national championship, though he did imply the Nittany Lions may have won the nation's toughest division - the Big Ten East.
He'd just rather let the conference title make the case for him.
''I'm not sure about resumes, what resumes have to do with the Big Ten championship game,'' Franklin said. ''I think to play for a Big Ten championship is a tremendous honor on its own and then to find a way to win this game and take that baby home would be great.''
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