No. 9 USC Football To Play No. 5 Penn State In 2017 Rose Bowl

    Clay Helton
    Dec. 4, 2016

    The No. 9-ranked USC football team (9-3) will make an unprecedented 34th trip to the Rose Bowl when it faces No. 5 Penn State (11-2) of the Big Ten on Jan. 2 in Pasadena, Calif. The 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual will kick off at 2 p.m. PT on ESPN.

    Information on obtaining tickets from USC’s allotment to the 103rd annual Rose Bowl will be sent via email after 4 p.m. PT today (Dec. 4) to Trojan Athletic Fund members and USC Season Ticket Holders. Other USC fans can visit USC’s Bowl Central website HERE for more information.

    A lottery for Rose Bowl tickets from USC’s allotment will be held for the first 200 fans who are not current season ticket holders but who purchase new 2017 football season tickets. To purchase 2017 season tickets, which are on sale now, click HERE or call 213-740-4672 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT on Monday.

    “We are tremendously excited and proud to be invited to the 2017 Rose Bowl,” said USC head coach Clay Helton. “It is a great honor for our team to have the opportunity to represent our university and the Trojan Family in the Rose Bowl, a bowl in which we have such a long tradition. We are extremely thankful for the invitation. It is a great reward for our football team after a very strong finish to the 2016 season.

    “We congratulate Coach Franklin and the Penn State football team on their outstanding season and look forward to what should be a fun and compelling bowl matchup. We can’t wait to see the Trojan Family in Pasadena on January 2.”

    Both USC and Penn State posted a 2016 regular season victory over a team that is playing in this year’s College Football Playoff semifinals. The Trojans beat Washington in Seattle, 26-13, and the Nittany Lions downed Ohio State at home, 24-21.



    The 2017 Rose Bowl will be a classic Pac-12/Big Ten meeting between collegiate programs with storied gridiron traditions. While it will be the 10th meeting ever between USC and Penn State (USC leads the series, 5-4), it will be just the third time the Trojans and Nittany Lions meet in Pasadena. In both teams’ most recent meeting as well as each squad’s most recent Rose Bowl appearance, No. 5 USC beat No. 6 Penn State, 35-24, in the 2009 Rose Bowl (following the 2008 season). USC quarterback Mark Sanchez threw 4 touchdowns and ran for another as Troy built a 24-point halftime lead. Penn State coach Joe Paterno coached from the press box while recovering from hip surgery.

    The teams also faced off in the first Rose Bowl played in the current Pasadena stadium, the 1923 game that was the initial post-season appearance for both schools. The teams’ coaches (USC’s Elmer “Gloomy Gus” Henderson and Penn State’s Hugo Bezdek) almost came to blows as the Nittany Lions arrived at the game 45 minutes late after being caught in a traffic jam, leaving Henderson upset that his Trojans had to wait and claiming Bezdek stalled on purpose.

    The Trojans are among the nation’s premier bowl teams, with an overall post-season record of 33-17 (not including 1 win and 1 loss later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record 34-18). USC has won 9 of its past 12 bowl games, but last year the Trojans fell to Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl, 23-21, on a Badgers’ late field goal.

    Troy has a 24-8 mark (.750) in the Rose Bowl (not including 1 appearance and 1 loss later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 33 Rose Bowls, 24-9, .718). That’s not only the most Rose Bowl wins of any team, but also the most wins by a school in a single bowl. USC has won 11 of its last 13 Rose Bowls (not including 1 appearance and 1 loss later vacated due to NCAA penalty; original record: 11 of its last 14). USC is the only team to have won 3 consecutive Rose Bowls (2007-08-09). USC twice played in 4 consecutive Rose Bowl games (1967 to 1970 and 2006 to 2009); Ohio State (1973-76) is the only other team to have done so.

    Overall, the Trojans own a 33-20 record in regular and post-season games it has played in the Rose Bowl Stadium, including most recently a 36-14 victory over UCLA last month on the Bruins’ home field. USC played the first-ever football game in the Rose Bowl Stadium, a 12-0 loss to California in 1922.

    After starting off 1-3 in 2016, the Trojans are on an 8-game winning streak (their longest since 2008-09), including defeating both No. 4 Washington on the road and No. 21 Colorado and posting decisive regular season-ending victories over traditional rivals UCLA and Notre Dame. All 3 of Troy’s losses in 2016 have been to AP Top 25 teams away from home.

    Helton, who already has 5 wins over ranked opponents in his 21-game head coaching career (twice over Top 5 teams), has seen USC get hot thanks to a revitalized offense (9 straight games with 400-plus total yards) and an aggressive defense (holdings foes to season low point totals 6 times in the past 8 outings).

    Mobile Sam Darnold, the Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year and a Manning Award finalist who is second in ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating and statistically is the country’s top frosh signalcaller (he owns the USC freshman TD pass season record with 26), has been at the controls during the win string. He distributes passes to a deep group of wideouts--including wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is USC’s No. 5 career receiver, and Darreus Rogers (in USC’s Top 20)--and tight ends. The experienced offensive line, featuring All-Pac-12 first team tackles Zach Banner (a Senior CLASS Award finalist) and Chad Wheeler, has helped USC rank among the nation’s leaders in fewest sacks and tackles for loss. Explosive tailback Ronald Jones II (10 rushing TDs and 4 100-yard efforts in the past 6 games) headlines USC’s ground attack.

    Troy’s defense has held 6 foes under 100 rushing yards this year and has 20 sacks in the win streak. Leading the defensive charge are the likes of linebackers Michael Hutchings, Porter Gustin and Cameron Smith and tackles Rasheem Green and Stevie Tu’ikolovatu. And, of course, there’s dynamic cornerback-wide receiver-returner Adoree’ Jackson, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year who is equally dangerous roaming the secondary (4 picks in 2016) or on special teams (he’s in the national Top 10 in punt returns and kickoff returns, with 2 scoring runbacks in each category this year). Jackson, All-American candidate, is a finalist for the Thorpe Award, Hornung Award and Lott Trophy.

    Third-year coach James Franklin, the Big Ten Coach of the Year, has Penn State riding a 9-game winning streak. Penn State, which was fifth in the College Football Playoff final rankings and just missed a sport in the CFP semifinals, tied with Ohio State for first in the Big Ten East Division but advanced to the Big Ten Championship Game (where it defeated Wisconsin on Saturday, 38-31) by virtue of its 24-21 regular season defeat of the Buckeyes.

    Key Penn State performers on an offense that is averaging 36.7 points are running back Saquon Barkley, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year who this year has rushed for 1,302 yards and 16 TDs and has caught 23 passes with 3 more TDs, quarterback Trace McSorley, who has thrown for 3,360 yards with 25 TDs and just 5 interceptions (he is 14th in the nation in passing efficiency at 156.6), wide receiver Chris Godwin (50 receptions, 9 TDs) and tight end Mike Gesicki (47 catches). Leading tacklers for a unit that is ranked 22nd nationally in total defense (352.0) are safety Marcus Allen, who has 101 stops, linebacker Brandon Bell (87 tackles) and defensive end Garrett Sickels (12.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks). All-Big Ten first team placekicker Tyler Davis has nailed 22 field goals.