EAST LANSING, Mich. - The time is drawing near for Christian Hackenberg to think about his future, whether he will return to Penn State for his senior year next season or leave for the NFL draft.
But for Hackenberg, the Nittany Lions' starting quarterback and leader, the future consists of resting up and then diving headlong into preparations for his team's bowl game.
"Again, I'm not really thinking about my future too much," he said after the Lions were crushed, 55-16, by No. 6 Michigan State at Spartan Stadium. "I'm just focusing right now on getting better and what we need to do. We're working through everything this whole season and being able to put it together for one more game."
There will be plenty of time between now and Penn State's bowl game, which could come as early as the Dec. 26 Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif., or as late as the Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. There is a time coming up when Hackenberg may want to put his name in for evaluation by the NFL's college advisory committee.
But he indicated that is not on his radar.
"To be completely honest with you, I haven't even looked into any of that," he said. "I don't even know where to go, how the process goes, to be completely honest with you."
Hackenberg completed 22 of 39 passes against Michigan State for 257 yards and two touchdowns, but he threw a season-high two interceptions. The second, an intended screen pass to Saquon Barkley that was tipped by defensive end Shilique Calhoun, was caught by nose tackle Malik McDowell and returned 13 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.
In all, the Nittany Lions turned the ball over four times, one a fumble returned 77 yards by safety Demetrious Cox.
"We did some things, but they capitalized on mistakes and they had a lot of momentum," Hackenberg said. "They kept the ball out of our hands for the majority of the third quarter. It was one of those things where we just had to deal with the hand we got dealt and come out and continue to execute."
The Penn State offense had a reasonably productive day with 418 total yards. Hackenberg completed 11 passes - two of them for touchdowns - to Chris Godwin and eight to DaeSean Hamilton. He flipped a short pass to Saeed Blacknall that went for 77 yards and set up the Lions' final touchdown.
So the task now is to rest up and prepare for the bowl game - and wonder whether that contest will be the final one in a Penn State uniform for Christian Hackenberg.