Penn State head coach James Franklin came prepared with a sheet of paper in hand.
He knew what was going to be asked.
How are your players handling the No. 12 ranking in College Football Playoff rankings?
“Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa,” Franklin said Wednesday after practice.
Franklin proceeded to rattle off statistics about the Hawkeyes — their nine-road game winning streak, 15-3 record in their last 18 games, and four consecutive wins against Penn State while the Nittany Lions were ranked.
The coach continued.
“So it’s a challenge,” Franklin said. “Our focus is on Iowa. All the rest of it is nice externally, that people are talking about it. But internally, it’s Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa.”
That’s a lot of Iowas.
Joking aside, it’s similar to how Franklin handled questions on Tuesday afternoon and how the coach managed the post-Ohio State upset hype.
Penn State’s No. 12 College Football Playoff ranking, announced Tuesday night, was met with excitement among the Penn State fan base.
Some Penn State players went to Twitter to express the same thinking as Franklin: the rankings didn’t mean much if they didn’t take care of Iowa.
However, the Nittany Lions still appreciate the recognition.
“It reminds you of why you came to Penn State,” linebacker Jason Cabinda said Wednesday, “to put the university and program back into this position. Back where Penn State belongs.”
Wide receiver Chris Godwin agreed.
“It means a lot for the guys that stuck around through tough times because back then things were looking pretty bleak,” Godwin said. “Now we’re on the upward trend, and it’s on us to continue that forward momentum.”