The Rose Bowl History Between Penn State And USC

On Sunday, we learned that No. 5 Penn State would be heading to the 2017 Rose Bowl to play the USC Trojans in what should be a classic matchup between storied programs.

Penn State earned its Rose Bowl berth by way of winning Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game — the fourth Big Ten title the Nittany Lions have secured. The Rose Bowl — traditionally a matchup of the Big Ten and Pac-12 champions — selected No. 9 USC as Penn State’s opponent after Pac-12 Champion Washington earned a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Overall, Penn State and USC have met nine times with the Trojans holding a 5-4 advantage. This will be Penn State’s fourth Rose Bowl and third against USC. The Trojans have made 33 Rose Bowl appearances in the past — winning 24 times.

The first meeting between the two schools came at “The Granddaddy of Them All” long before Penn State was a member of the Big Ten. Penn State played in its first-ever bowl game in 1923 at the Rose Bowl against USC. The contest was also the first Rose Bowl held at the iconic stadium in Pasadena.

The contingent from State College left for Pasadena December 19 and finally made it to their destination by train on December 24 for the New Year’s Day clash.

The Nittany Lions, led by Hugo Bezdek, finished the regular season with a 6-3-1 record to earn the Rose Bowl bid. Coming into the game losing three of its last four, not much changed for Penn State as it fell to the Trojans. The Nittany Lions had a 3-0 lead off a drop-kick field goal in the first quarter, but the 6-1 Trojans scored a pair of touchdowns in the second and third quarter to win 14-3.

Penn State’s next Rose Bowl didn’t come for another 72 years. The Nittany Lions capped off an undefeated season with a 38-20 win over No. 13 Oregon at the 1995 Rose Bowl.

Because the Big Ten Champions had to play in the Rose Bowl due to conference ties, then No. 1 Penn State couldn’t get a true national championship clash with then No. 2 Nebraska — who took down No. 3 Miami in the Orange Bowl and ended up jumping the Nittany Lions for the title.

Penn State made its last Rose Bowl appearance in 2009 as co-Big Ten Champions with Ohio State. On a tiebreaker, the Nittany Lions earned the Rose Bowl bid and played USC. A 24-point second quarter from the Mark Sanchez-led Trojans helped them take down the Nittany Lions 38-24.

Eight years removed from its last Rose Bowl appearance, Penn State has an opportunity to take its first crown at the game since 1995 and finally enact revenge against the Trojans.

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About the Author

Steve Connelly

Unfortunately, former editor Steve Connelly has graduated. Where is he now? He might be doing something related to that PR degree he got in 2019. Maybe he finally opened that sports bar named after one of his photos, the Blurry Zamboni. Or he might just be eating chicken tenders and couch surfing. Anything’s possible. If you really want to know, follow him on Twitter @slc2o.

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