Who were the duds?
Trace McSorley’s First Quarter:
The Nittany Lion quarterback completed his first two pass attempts…to guys in white jerseys. In fact, it wasn’t until the second-to-last play of the first quarter that he hit a completion to a player on his own team. Of course, he came back to throw four touchdowns, so he made up for the rough start.
One of USC’s smartest players on defense, Smith made the boneheaded play of the game, getting ejected for targeting Trace McSorley late in the third quarter. The hit itself was unnecessary and textbook targeting. That it came on a play when the Trojans forced an incompletion made it worse.
Smith’s ejection came on the back of a string of questionable calls from the ACC refs, who had the USC contingent at the Rose Bowl fuming.
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While they got the call against Smith right, they flagged Uchenna Nwosu for leaping over McSorley even though he successfully avoided contact. They also failed to flag a pass interference which led to a Penn State interception. Most outrageously, they reversed a fumble recovered by USC, apparently using their x-ray vision to determine that the Lions had possession before Stevie Tu’ikolovatu emerged from the pile with the ball.
At the very least, they called a series of pass interference penalties on USC’s game-tying touchdown drive, so there’s that.
USC’s Rushing Attack:
Part of the reason the Trojans let Penn State back into the game and then dug themselves in a hole was their inability to run the ball and control possession. USC’s vaunted running game managed just 3.6 yards per carry, though Justin Davis accounted for 43 yards on only six carries.