While Ohio State and Michigan rest up and await their postseason destination next weekend, Penn State and Wisconsin have started to prepare for Saturday's Big Ten championship game, not really certain whether the winner will advance to the College Football Playoff.
There is no rule that mandates that the College Football Playoff selection committee take the winner of Saturday's contest between the No. 7 Nittany Lions and the No. 6 Badgers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for the four-team tournament beginning Dec. 31.
And after the double-overtime thriller between Ohio State and Michigan won by the Buckeyes, the thought in some circles is that the Buckeyes, and maybe even the Wolverines as well, deserve to be in the playoff ahead of whoever wins Saturday.
Penn State head coach James Franklin, on a conference call Sunday, said he didn't have a strong opinion on whether the Big Ten champion should advance to the playoff. He said that whatever happens to his team, "We'll be happy and excited for whatever that opportunity is."
But Franklin added that a championship game should carry "a lot of weight" in the selection committee's considerations.
"If you're playing in a Big Ten championship game, then both teams have earned the right to get there," he said. "I think it has to carry weight. I think the conferences that have a championship game, you have to go out and prove it another time on the field. It's one thing to make predictions and do rankings based on a lot of factors. It's another thing to go on the field and actually do it.
"So I think championship games should carry a lot of weight. In my mind, it's another time to get out on the field and prove yourself."
Franklin also said that he did not know if a championship game impacted the committee more or less, but that it was "no different than anything else."
"When you're making decisions in life," he said, "you want to have as much information as you possibly can to make an educated decision. I think championship games give you the opportunity to do that. I think it's a piece of valuable information."
Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst pretty much passed on the question concerning the impact of a championship game, saying. "I don't really spend any time thinking about that" and that all the program's energy and focus are going into Saturday.
The two teams enter the contest with 10-2 records. The Nittany Lions closed the regular season with a 45-12 victory over Michigan State for their eighth consecutive win. The Badgers won their sixth in a row, defeating Minnesota, 31-17.
In the latest Associated Press poll released Sunday, Wisconsin was ranked sixth, and Penn State eighth.
Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who played his high school football at Malvern Prep, was knocked out in the first half of Saturday's game with a possible head injury, but Chryst said he spoke with the redshirt freshman Sunday and that he was "feeling good, a lot better than he did" Saturday. He said Hornibrook's status was day-to-day. . . . Lions linebacker Brandon Bell, an Oakcrest High graduate who was in on 18 tackles Saturday, was named national defensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. . . . According to reports on recruiting websites, Penn State picked up an oral commitment from 6-foot-4, 314-pound defensive tackle Fred Hansard, who played at the Hun School in Princeton, N.J. Hansard, who visited the campus this weekend, flipped his pledge from Florida.