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Pretty self-explanatory. Photo courtesy of nbclosangeles.com
THE 103rd ROSE BOWL GAME
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TROJANS vs PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS
DAY & DATE: Monday, January 2nd, 2017, 2:00 p.m.
PLACE: The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
TIME: 2:00 p.m.
LINE: USC is favored by six and a half points
USC TROJANS – 9-3, 7-2 and second place in the Pac-12 South Division
* Have won their last eight games, including 26-13 over Pac-12 Champion and College Football Playoff participant Washington, 36-14 over UCLA, and 45-27 over Notre Dame
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS – 11-2, 8-1 and first place in the Big Ten East Division
* Big Ten Conference Champions, beating Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, 38-31
* Beat 2nd ranked and College Football Playoff participant Ohio State, 24-21, on October 22nd
USC’s Song Girls in a post-Rose Bowl performance in 2009. Photo courtesy of sports.gunaxin.com
USC – Clay Helton, 2nd year, 15-7 overall
PENN STATE – James Franklin, 3rd year, 25-14 overall
RANKINGS (according to the College Football Playoff):
PENN STATE: #5
Sam Darnold, QB: 68.1% completions, 2,633 yards, 26 TD, 8 INTs
Ronald Jones II, RB: 1,027 rush yards, 6.5 ypc, 11 TDs
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR: 63 receptions, 781 yards, 9 TDs
*(MVP) Adoree Jackson, DB/PR/KR/WR: 4 INTs, 2 TDs off kick returns (including 1 for 100 yards vs Notre Dame), 2 TDs off punt returns (including 1 for 77 yards vs Utah State), 51 tackles, 1,074 total all-purpose yards
Cameron Smith, LB: 79 tackles, 7 TFL
Porter Gustin, LB: 64 tackles, 12 TFL, 5.5 sacks
Rasheem Green, DT: 50 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 3 sacks
Trace McSorely, QB: 57.5% completions, 3,360 yards, 25 TDs, 5 INTs
Saquon Barkley, RB: 1,302 rush yards, 5.3 ypc, 16 TDs,
Chris Goodwin, WR: 50 receptions, 795 yards, 9 TDs
Marcus Allen, DB: 101 tackles, 6 TFL
Brandon Bell, LB: 88 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4 sacks
Garret Sickles, DE: 13 TFL, 6 sacks
Highlights from the USC Trojans’ last Rose Bowl appearance, a 38-24 win over Penn State on January 1st, 2009. Courtesy of YouTube.
A Few Thoughts and a Prediction:
Two traditional and historic programs that have risen from the ashes after significant sanctions.
One of them, who after the Jerry Sandusky controversy some had referred to as “Pedophile State”, rising almost literally from the dead after losing 40 scholarships and getting a four-year bowl ban.
And here they are in what’s commonly know as the “Grandaddy of Them All”, complete with all the trimmings going along with that; the crowning of the Rose Queen and her court, the trip to Disneyland, the eating contest at Lawry’s Beef Bowl, and a certain five and a half mile parade down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena that has been a world famous institution in Southern California for well over 100 years.
All part of the Tournament of Roses, which will be held on Monday the 2nd due to the long-standing “Never on Sunday” decree as New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday.
An overhead view of the Rose Bowl during the last time the Trojans were one of the two teams featured in the “Granddaddy of Them All” in 2009. Photo courtesy of vitervoices.usc.edu
As for the game itself…
While researching the stats, I noticed that the Trojans and Nittany Lions’ numbers are quite similar.
Both teams have beaten squads that will be playing in the College Football Playoff this weekend, and both teams are peaking.
This will be the tenth meeting between these kingdoms and the third time they have gotten together in the Rose Bowl, with ‘SC leading the series five to four and having beaten them in their previous two Rose clashes, in 1923 (which was USC’s Rose Bowl debut) and 2009, the Trojans’ last time in Pasadena on January 1st.
Pundits are seeing this as the best match up of the postseason outside of the two playoff games; Alabama vs Washington and Ohio State vs Clemson, both being played on December 31st.
As I see it, USC’s streak is a little hotter right now as after replacing Max Browne with Sam Darnold behind center, the Trojans have done no wrong, doing pretty much whatever they want on both sides of the ball and on special teams.
That’s why even though the game will be close and hard-fought for much of it, ‘SC will make a few more plays at the end, my final score prediction being this:
USC TROJANS – 31
PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS – 21
Not only do think the game will ultimately go the Trojans’ way with the band playing “Conquest” at around 5:30 that evening, I see this as being a springboard to a possibly dominant 2017 season with USC being favorites for the Pac-12 title and a strong contender for next year’s playoff.
Especially if their two best players, Jackson and Smith-Schuster, who as juniors are both NFL Draft eligible and are virtually guaranteed to be first round picks, choose to walk away from $30 million dollars each and remain Trojans for their senior seasons.
But that will be discussed further when USC’s season wrap-up is written and posted on this site in a couple of weeks.
But for now, I’m sure that both ‘SC and Penn State are looking forward to an epic battle, which I think this game has a very good chance to be.