Tigers, Nittany Lions talk focus as Cotton Bowl nears

DALLAS — With Christmas behind us, a new celebration is getting underway for Memphis Football, as we are now less than two days away from the Cotton Bowl.

The Tigers and Penn State continue their preparations for Saturday morning's game in Dallas, where today was Media Day.

"Our guys have the right mindset," Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield said. "They know it’s gonna take a lot of details and execution in order to have success on Saturday, but we take it one day at a time."

Saturday's Cotton Bowl is undoubtedly the biggest game in the history of Memphis Tigers Football. The team's first trip to one of the so-called New Year's Six games means millions of dollars in revenue and more national exposure.

"Obviously we know the task is at hand," Silverfield said. "It’s going to be a challenge."

Penn State coach James Franklin agrees, as he tries to keep his team focused against the top-ranked team from outside the power five conferences.

"We have a healthy respect for our opponent in Memphis, but our guys have been good," Franklin said. "We’ve practiced well."

Silverfield is also pleased with the way his team has been preparing for what will be his first game as head coach.

"This is a heckuva way to start my head coaching career at the college level," he said.

A lot has changed since the tigers won the AAC championship and earned the Cotton Bowl berth three weeks ago. Head coach Mike Norvell left for Florida State and defensive coordinator Adam Fuller followed him.

"At the end of the day we’re not looking at who’s not here," Silverfield said. "We’re looking at what we have right now, and I think people putting a little grin on their face saying, ‘OK. We got what we need. We’re ready to go to war… We’re ready to go to battle on Saturday.’"

Franklin, who says he's familiar with the Memphis program through it's reputation and his ties to Tennessee as Vanderbilt's coach, says the Nittany Lions have "a health respect" for the Tigers.

"This is a very good football team," Franklin said. "This is a well-coached football team. This is an extremely prideful team and proud community, as well, and we better be ready to play."

The Cotton Bowl match-up between the 17th ranked Tigers and the No. 10 Nittany Lions kicks off Saturday at 11 a.m. from AT&T Stadium in Dallas.