The stage is set for the 2017 Rose Bowl, as USC and Penn State will meet for the third time in Pasadena, following Washington’s admittance to the College Football Playoff.
If you said on September 24th that USC and Penn State would be meeting in the Rose Bowl, you would’ve been laughed out of the room.
Clay Helton and James Franklin were on the hot seat with their teams a combined 3-5, each with a loss of at least 39 points to a team ranked in the Top 5.
But alas, here we are.
Only undefeated Alabama and Western Michigan have longer winning streaks than the Trojans and Nittany Lions, who have combined to finish the season 17-0 including providing the only losses for playoff teams Washington and Ohio State.
It makes Pasadena the terminus of an epic collision course between the Pac-12 and Big Ten’s hottest teams –and arguably each conference’s best– despite being out of the playoff picture.
Let’s walk through the January 2nd matchup…
The USC vs. Penn State Series
The Trojans own a 5-4 record in nine meetings with Penn State, including two wins in the series’ only two Rose Bowl matchups. In 1923, USC’s 14-3 win was their first ever at the Rose Bowl, in their first ever postseason bowl game.
They wouldn’t meet again until the 1982 Fiesta Bowl, when the Nittany Lions finally got revenge, winning 26-10 over Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen and the Trojans. From 1990 to 2000, the programs met six times in an early season cross-country rivalry of sorts, with the teams splitting at 3-3.
After the 2008 season, the 11-1 Trojans drew No. 6 Penn State in the Rose Bowl and rolled to a 38-24 win, after jumping out to a 31-7 halftime lead.
This is USC’s record 34th Rose Bowl appearance, while it’s only the fourth time PSU will make the trek from State College.