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Written Rich Scarcella | The Reading Eagle | November 2, 2017

Nittany Lions focused on Michigan State, not CFP rankings

Penn State was ranked as No. 7 in the initial College Football Playoff but they are more focused on other things.

Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki remembered when the Nittany Lions appeared in the first College Football Playoff rankings of last year.

"I felt like there was a parade downtown when we got the No. 12 ranking," Gesicki said Wednesday. "A year later, we're sitting at 7. There's no worry. There's no panic. We can only control what we can control."

College football playoff rankings: First poll features Georgia, Alabama at the top

While fans might be disappointed about Penn State being ranked seventh in the first CFP poll of this season, the Lions (4-1 Big Ten, 7-1) didn't seem to be bothered.

They understand that if they don't take care of business and win their remaining four games, starting with a trip to No. 24 Michigan State (4-1, 6-2) for a noon game Saturday (TV-Fox), the rankings won't mean much.

"We don't care because we try to take one game at a time and beat the team that's next," cornerback Christian Campbell said. "The rankings are predictions, so they don't faze us as a team. Anything can happen. It really doesn't matter."

MORE: College Football Playoff announces Championship sites for 2021-2024

Gesicki said he stayed on the field after practice to catch passes with wide receivers DaeSean Hamilton and Juwan Johnson Tuesday night and didn't watch the announcement of the rankings.

"I wasn't around to see anyone's reaction," Gesicki said. "My personal reaction when I heard we were seventh was: 'OK, great. Let's get ready for Saturday.'

"You can get lost in these rankings and trip. There's a lot of football left. Our focus isn't on making the playoffs. Our focus is on playing Michigan State."

McSorley makes cut

Penn State junior quarterback Trace McSorley was named Wednesday as one of the 10 finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented to the nation's top quarterback.

The Golden Arm Award winner is determined by accomplishments on and off the field.

MORE: National Football Foundation announces finalists for 2017 William V. Campbell Trophy

McSorley ranks second in the Big Ten and in the top 20 nationally in completion percentage (65.9), total offense (296.8 yards per game) and points responsible for (18.0 per game). He's also third in the conference in touchdown passes (16) and passing yards (258.9 per game).

He's the first quarterback in Penn State history to have a rushing and passing touchdown in four consecutive games. He's thrown for a touchdown in 23 consecutive games, a school record and the second-longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

McSorley has 47 career touchdown passes, one behind Christian Hackenberg's school record of 48.

The other finalists are J.T. Barrett of Ohio State, Riley Ferguson of Memphis, Ryan Finley of North Carolina State, Nick Fitzgerald of Mississippi State, Quinton Flowers of South Florida, Kenny Hill of TCU, Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State and Logan Woodside of Toledo.

This article is written by Written Rich Scarcella from Reading Eagle, Pa. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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