UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Football is headed to the Big Ten Championship game with a Saturday matchup against Wisconsin set for 8:17 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
"We are looking forward to seeing a big contingent obviously this week in Indianapolis," Nittany Lion head coach James Franklin said. "It should be fun. It should be exciting."
Penn State is set to make its first appearance in the Big Ten Championship game, having claimed its third overall Big Ten regular season title and second divisional crown since joining the conference in 1993.
As he does weekly, Franklin recapped last weekend's 45-12 win against Michigan State before turning the focus toward Wisconsin.
Looking back at the Michigan State victory, Franklin was quick to point out that the Nittany Lions committed just one penalty, noting both focus and discipline as a key to another team win.
"The thing I'm probably most proud of is this team's focus overall, their discipline, and our chemistry," Franklin said.
With positive takeaways from offense, defense and special teams, Franklin also revealed Nittany Lion coaching staff's player of the week awards with Trace McSorley on offense, Brandon Bell and Marcus Allen splitting defense and Blake Gillikin earning special teams honors.
Both McSorley and Bell earned a few more honors for their standout performances against the Spartans. McSorley earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honor.
Turning the focus toward the Badgers, Franklin stressed that consistency has been key for Wisconsin, which is making its fourth trip to the Big Ten Championship game in the last six years.
"What I would say about these guys is when you think in your mind or at least when I think in my mind of what a traditional Big Ten team is, that's who these guys are," Franklin said.
With a big physical presence on offense and a defense bolstered by a stout front seven and a strong linebacking unit, Franklin also made note of the Badger special teams unit.
"The thing that really jumps out is they are solid and consistent in all phases on special teams," Franklin said. "One of the things that they do on punt return is line up, screen move and shift their fronts. They've gotten so many people to jump off-sides by real fast screen jumping or moving guys down the line of scrimmage. It has caused everybody to jump off-sides. There's been some games it's happened multiple times."
Quote Board -
- Franklin on the matchup between Wisconsin's secondary and the Nittany Lion receivers.
"I think the explosive plays come from Trace's mobility, when he is able to step up in the pocket and extend plays. He's also one of those quarterbacks that when he steps up in the pocket, even when he's kind of on the run, he's eyes are downfield."
"The other thing is, as good as defensive backs are all over the country, and specifically in the Big Ten, if the offensive line can protect and the quarterback can extend [the play], I don't care who you are, I think playing defensive back may be one of the most difficult positions in all of sports. You're basically doing everything that most people do backwards. It's all reactionary."
- Franklin on the progress Ryan Bates has made.
"I think that's probably one of the bigger stories of our season. We have always thought he was talented enough. Trust me, we got into a discussion with the staff the other day, Josh Gattis brought this up a long time ago, we've all kind of seen it and discussed it. There's some aspects of his body type that you'd say he's probably more fit for center or guard, but his feet and his athleticism and his comfort in space make him really good at tackle."
- Schwan on the potential Wisconsin could utilize two quarterbacks.
"Throughout the entire season we've played teams that have had the same situation, where they'll put a guy in who's a bigger guy that can kind of run you over. They'll put a speed guy in to do certain jet sweeps. We'll prepare for that accordingly."