College football: Penn State's path to Big Ten championship goes through Rutgers
Shortly after Iowa's stunning 14-13 upset win over No. 3 Michigan late Saturday night, Penn State coach James Franklin took to Twitter to send a message.
He tweeted "Rutgers" 15 times on one post, ending it with this: "Complete focus on Rutgers. Nothing else!"
Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, Rutgers, complete focus on Rutgers nothing else!— James Franklin (@coachjfranklin) November 13, 2016
Franklin sought to keep the feet of Nittany Lions players and fans planted firmly on the ground after the Hawkeyes' win put Penn State closer to a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Michigan (6-1 Big Ten, 9-1), Ohio State (6-1, 9-1) and Penn State (6-1, 8-2) are tied for first place in the East Division with two games left in the regular season.
If Indiana or Ohio State beats Michigan and if the Lions beat Rutgers on the road and Michigan State at home, then Penn State would represent the East Division in the conference title game Dec. 3 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
If Penn State finishes in a two-way tie with Ohio State, the Lions would go to Indianapolis because of their head-to-head win over the Buckeyes.
If Michigan beats Indiana and Ohio State, the Wolverines would represent the East in the conference title game no matter what Penn State does the next two games because of their head-to-head win over the Lions.
Ohio State needs to beat Michigan State and Michigan and for Penn State to lose to Rutgers or Michigan State to play in the conference title game.
The East representative probably will face Wisconsin or Nebraska from the West for the Big Ten championship.
Penn State's case for a berth in a New Year's Six bowl was strengthened by the losses Saturday of Clemson, Michigan, Washington, Texas A&M and Auburn, all ranked in the top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings.
The Lions have an outside chance to reach the national semifinals in the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl. If they win the Big Ten title, they would have a shot to make the Final Four. But they probably would end up in the Rose Bowl, not a bad consolation prize.
If not the Rose Bowl, their most likely bowl destinations seem to be the Orange or Cotton in the New Year's Six or the Outback.
College sports analyst Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com posted new bowl projections Sunday and has Penn State playing San Diego State in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2 in Arlington, Texas. Palm also projects that the Lions will play in the Big Ten title game and lose to Wisconsin.
As we found out two days ago, a lot can happen in the next two weeks and then the conference title games. That's why Franklin posted another message on Twitter, quoting words from the most successful college basketball coach of all time, UCLA's John Wooden.
"You can't let praise or criticism get to you," Wooden once said. "It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."
This article was written by Rich Scarcella from Reading Eagle, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.