UNIVERSITY PARK -- Devon Still believes he and his Penn State teammates "should get into any bowl game that we worked hard for and deserve to go to."
If they want to ensure that will happen, the Nittany Lions had better beat Wisconsin this weekend. If they don't, they could be very disappointed by where they end up.
A win over the Badgers would get Penn State into the Big Ten championship game. Beat Michigan State in that contest, and the Lions would be locked into the Rose Bowl.
Lose to Wisconsin, and there's a possibility PSU will slip all the way down to a minor bowl, perhaps against a team from Conference USA or even the MAC.
According to Big Ten rules, a team that reaches the conference championship game can be picked no lower than fourth in the selection process by bowls with tie-ins to the league.
The chart below shows the order in which the bowls select, and by beating Wisconsin, Penn State would be guaranteed at least the Insight Bowl or the Gator Bowl.
How low could they go?
By rule, the Nittany Lions can slip no lower than the Insight or Gator Bowl if they beat Wisconsin and then lose in the Big Ten title game. However, there are no guarantees if the Lions lose to Wisconsin because the bowls will be free to pick whatever teams they choose. The selection order of the Big Ten bowls:
1. Capital One.........Orlando..........Jan. 2.......SEC team
2. Outback.............Tampa............Jan. 2.......SEC team
3. Insight.............Tempe............Dec. 30......Big 12 team
4. Gator...............Jacksonville.....Jan. 2.......SEC team
5. Meineke Car Care....Houston..........Dec. 31......Big 12 team
6. TicketCity..........Dallas...........Jan. 2.......C-USA team
7. Little Caesars......Detroit..........Dec. 27......MAC team
But if the Lions lose ...
Given the scandal and the possible bad publicity it could bring to a bowl game, they could find themselves dropping all the way to the TicketCity Bowl or the Little Caesars Bowl.
Those bowls afraid to deal with fallout from the scandal have the option of picking any bowl-eligible team from the Big Ten over Penn State, including teams that could finish 6-6 such as Illinois and Ohio State. The Lions beat both of those teams, so it would be even more disappointing if the Buckeyes or Illini are selected ahead of them.
The PSU players have made it clear they want to go to a bowl game, but several of them Tuesday chose not to discuss the possibility that they could be bypassed and slip to a lower-tier bowl.
"We have no control over that situation, we're not really even worried about that situation," safety Drew Astorino said. "We're worried about probably the biggest game that any of us have played so far this season, we're worried about Big Ten champs and going to the Rose Bowl. That's our goal. So that's all we're worried about.
"We can only control what we can control, and that's out of our hands."
SUBHD: Still had flu
Still did not record a tackle and wasn't much of a factor in Penn State's win at Ohio State, and it became clear why on Tuesday.
"I was dealing with the flu," the defensive lineman said. "I just tried to play through that just because I knew my presence on the field would help my team out a lot."
Asked how he's doing now, Still replied, "I feel good."
While offensive lineman Chima Okoli did his best to say the players are treating this as a normal game week, Still admitted it's not.
"This is not just an ordinary game," he said. "It has a lot of stuff on it. We're practicing harder than we ever have before."
SUBHD: Wisconsin injuries
The Badgers are known for their outstanding offensive lines, but they are dealing with a key injury as center Peter Konz is out with a bad ankle. That has led to some shuffling on the line, which could be a break for Penn State's defensive front.
"I believe that their offensive line is the best in our conference, so we're looking forward to going against it to see how we hold up," Still said.
SUBHD: Holiday plans
Classes are out at Penn State for Thanksgiving, but the players are still on campus and have to find a way to help pass the time. Interim coach Tom Bradley said he's planning to take the team to see a movie tonight.
"I think it's 'The Immortals,'" Bradley said. "I believe that's the one we're going to see.
"The NCAA said we're allowed to give them free popcorn and a Coke," he added. "So that's a good start. We did rent the whole theater. It will just be us."
SUBHD: News and notes
Bradley said he still hasn't had any communication with Joe Paterno since it was learned Friday he has been diagnosed with lung cancer. ... Okoli said, "I'm sure there are some guys who have" gone to visit with Paterno, but he didn't mention anyone specifically. "We've definitely been thinking about him and hoping he's doing all right," linebacker Nate Stupar said. ... Several players were asked about being big underdogs against Wisconsin. "That doesn't mean anything to me, and that doesn't mean anything to my teammates," Stupar said.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and @CoryGiger on Twitter.