The last time USC football played in the Rose Bowl, they won a last-second thriller against Penn State on an epic game-winning field goal in what's widely considered to be one of the greatest Rose Bowls of all time. Famous College Football Insider Brett McMurphy is smelling the Roses again for the Trojans this year, already predicting them to make it back to the Rose Bowl at season's end this year.
It's especially notable because he has them playing Penn State in the New Year's Six matchup. Can the Trojans advance to 3-0 against the Nittany Lions in the Rose Bowl? That remains to be seen, and there's a lot of season left to play, but for what it's worth McMurphy has USC as one-point underdogs. It's interesting, as SC is ranked five spots ahead of PSU at No. 6 in the nation.
Penn State therefore is of course outside the top 10, although they are also 4-0. They have certainly been making a case to be a Rose Bowl team, too. The one potential buzzkill of this matchup could be that the Rose Bowl isn't a College Football Playoff game this year. That being said, neither program had Playoff expectations coming into the season.
Both USC football and Penn State haven't played any ranked teams just yet this season.
That being said, both USC football and Penn State will have at least one tough game remaining on their schedules. USC has No. 12 ranked Utah right now, and PSU has No. 4 Michigan on the road, No. 21 Minnesota, and No. 3 Ohio State.
If SC plays Penn State in the Rose Bowl, it will be no walk in the park. That schedule means that Penn State will likely be just as battle tested (if not more) than the Trojans. On the bright side, though, USC has great history against the Nittany Lions. They have a 6-4 record against them, and have won three straight against them. The last time PSU beat SC was all the way back in 1996.
It has the potential to be a very evenly matched contest, as currently, both defenses are giving up under 19 points (18.25 for USC and 16.75 for Penn State). Both teams are also scoring over 38 points per game on offense (42.3 for USC and 38.8 for Penn State).
What a start to the Lincoln Riley era would it be if the Trojans go ahead and play in the Rose Bowl after just their first year with the new coach, and what a start to the Riley era would it be if they go ahead and win that prestigious bowl game.