The 2017 Rose Bowl will take place this afternoon when the No. 5 ranked Big Ten champion Penn State Nittany Lions face the No. 9 ranked USC Trojans. Both of these teams had fallen on hard times over the past decade or so, but it is great to see them back and climbing the Top 25 standings once again.
Referred to as the “Granddaddy of them all,” the Rose Bowl turns 103 years-old today, and what better way to celebrate than with two teams like Penn State and USC, both of which are rich in tradition, and have been playing college football since the 1880’s. That is a lot of history!
According to a CBS Sports report, the Big Ten champion Nittany Lions finished the season with an 11-2 record, and some will argue that Penn State should have been in the college football playoffs instead of Ohio State.
The Nittany Lions defeated Ohio State 24-21 back in October, which obviously would give Penn State the head-to-head advantage, but the CFP committee must not have seen things that way. One has to wonder if they feel different after OSU was smoked by Clemson on New Year’s Eve?
While Penn State coach James Franklin wants all of his teams to focus on USC and only USC, the kids have to wonder about what could have been — it is just human nature. Here is some food for thought about the college football playoffs and an interesting fact. So far, in the three years of the current playoff format, Penn State was the first Power Five conference champion to be left out in favor of a non-divisional champ.
So the million dollar question is, what if the Buckeyes had been a two-loss Big Ten champion with Penn State’s resume? Would the Buckeyes have been left on the outside looking in? Probably not, but that is an argument for another day.
Right now, all Penn State wants is to be the next Rose Bowl winner.
Penn State trailed by a large margin in the Big Ten title game, 28-7 to be exact, but in the end, the Nittany Lions stormed back to earn the 38-31 win. That is the kind of positive energy head coach James Franklin wants his team to focus on and not whether they should have been in the NCAA playoffs.
“Just how hard our guys play; that’s something that is really, really important to me,” Penn State third-year coach James Franklin said. “There’s no better compliment than when you go around recruiting and you see high school coaches and they say, ‘Coach, your guys play so hard.’ That’s what it starts with. You get guys playing hard and playing for each other, you have a chance. That is what I’m most proud of… And they’re having fun. God forbid, you have fun while playing major college football.”
If Penn State wants to head back to the great state of Pennsylvania winners, they will need to keep up that tremendous effort that got them to Pasadena when they face quarterback Sam Darnold and the high-powered USC offense.
Darnold has played beyond his years so far at Southern Cal, as he looks more like a sophomore or junior running the offense than a freshman. This kid is going to be something special at USC and he may shatter a few Trojan records along the way.
Darnold is the best quarterback in the nation amongst freshman in almost every statistical category, including passing efficiency (161.0 rating), completion percentage (68.1) and touchdown passes (26). Twenty-six touchdown passes as a freshman? That is impressive.
Las Vegas odds makers have USC listed as a 7 point favorite with the over/under number set at 59.
The Rose Bowl is always like a road game for the Big Ten and a home tilt for the Pac-12, however, this spread seems a bit high. Penn State keeps proving they have a great team game after game, and they will have to do it once again this afternoon.
Pick – Penn State +7
College football fans can catch every play of the USC vs Penn State Rose Bowl match-up nationally on ESPN. The game will also be streaming live for fans on the go through the Watch ESPN App. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET.
[Featured Image by Harry How/Getty Images]