In the marquee game of the day, USC and Penn State meet in the Grand Daddy of Them All, the Rose Bowl. The oldest bowl game of them all, which began play in 1902, enters its 130rd edition in Pasadena. USC will feel right at home in Los Angeles. The Trojans have appeared in a record 34 Rose Bowls, coming out on the winning side on 24 occasions. 24 wins is a record as well, which they can add to with a win over Penn State. Their last Rose Bowl came against none other than Penn State in 2009, a year after Mark Sanchez graduated. In 2009 it was Matt Barkley’s team, and in 2017 Sam Darnold looks to etch his name into USC lore.
Darnold, only a freshman, has impressed in only his first-year from under center. He came in and saved the team this season, calmly leading the Trojans to a 9-3 record. USC opened the year in rather ugly fashion against Alabama. The first game of the year resulted in a 52-6 smashing to set the scene for the Crimson Tide the rest of the season. It didn’t end there for the Trojans, who started the year at 1-3, with their other losses coming against Stanford and Utah. The offense was stagnant and looking ugly. This was all before Darnold took the reigns over, though.
Darnold went on to be the face of the program, igniting the offense to a serious run the rest of the way. USC are hoping that it continues all the way into the Rose Bowl. If anything, Darnold has a nice future with the Trojans. Keeping it up will result in looks from NFL teams without a doubt. Right now, his attention has to be in the Rose Bow, the biggest stage he’s been on in his life. Penn State will counter with a talented quarterback of their own, Trace McSorley. Don’t overlook McSorley, a third-year player who finally got his chance to start at Penn State this season. He’s made the most of it, gashing opposing defenses for 25 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. McSorley has deceptive speed, too. He may not look like a speedster, but he’s rushed for 352 yards and another 6 touchdowns on the ground. Look for this to be an exciting matchup, featuring two of the hottest quarterbacks you will find in college football.
USC Trojans vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Rose Bowl Betting Odds:
vs. Penn State +7(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
USC vs. Penn State Pick:
McSorley is in my opinion the most overlooked quarterback in college football this season. You may not have watched him watch, but trust me, the guy can zing it. Penn State have a prized possession in their corner who will be around next season as well. For sure, the Nittany Lions aren’t going to be going anywhere. The Penn State offense was underrated as well, not just the quarterback. The offense averaged 36.7 points per game, which was 22nd in the country. I bet you didn’t expect that with Penn State. They averaged 45 points over the last six weeks of the regular season! When McSorley got it rolling he didn’t let up.
The Nittany Lions have rode their defense as well, en route to a nine game winning streak, all the way to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. They allowed 19.2 points per game in that time. And let me tell you, putting points up on the Wisconsin defense is not the easiest of chores. McSorley and the Penn State offense made it look easy in the Big Ten Championship. In a lot of ways, you could say that Penn State and USC are similar in a lot of ways.
Both have an underrated offense and defense. The Trojans scored an average of 32.9 points per game this season, but just like Penn State, they got it rolling after a sluggish start in September. In their last six games, the Trojans averaged 40.8 points per game. And lastly, I’m going to compare them with Penn State again. Their defensive effort was strikingly similar, as they allowed 18.6 points per game on their eight-game winning streak leading up to the Rose Bowl. This is one of the best matchups you’ll find on the college football bowl schedule. So many comparisons to draw from with these two schools. As such, the play to me is on Penn State with the points.
PICK: PENN STATE +7 (-110)