USC started the season with a 1-3 record and Penn State, a 2-2 mark, but since then these programs have combined for 17 consecutive victories to meet in “The Granddaddy of Them All,” – the 103rd Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Southern Cal leads the all-time series, 5-4, with the most recent matchup coming in each squad’s last Rose Bowl appearance: a 2009 USC victory. In the College Football Playoff rankings, Penn State slots in the unenviable No. 5 spot while USC weighs in at No. 9. Both programs own 2016 wins over a team playing in the College Football Playoff semifinals – Penn State beat Ohio State, while USC doubled up Washington.
Penn State (11-2) vs. USC (9-3)
Jan. 2, 2017
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
Players to watch
Freshman sensation Sam Darnold has yet to taste defeat as the starting quarterback for the Trojans, boasting an 8-0 record. Darnold has thrown for 2,633 yards while completing 68.1 percent of his passes, and his 26 scoring strikes (against eight interceptions) are already a program record for freshmen.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, has run for 1,302 yards and 16 touchdowns. The sophomore has also caught 23 passes for 347 yards (15.1 yards per reception), with three additional scores.
USC is making an unprecedented 33rd trip to the Rose Bowl 2017 Game, where it has won 75 percent of the time – including 11 of the last 13.
Penn State is tied for fourth nationally with 28 bowl victories and ranks third in bowl winning percentage at 63 percent, with a 28-16-2 mark (among schools with at least 20 postseason appearances).
With this year’s appearance, the Trojans will have played in the Rose Bowl Game during the term of every United States President since 1929.
Nittany Lions sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley has thrown for 3,360 yards with 25 touchdowns and just five picks.
In his past six games, Trojans running back Ronald Jones II has 10 rushing touchdowns and four 100-yard efforts.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin paces Penn State in receptions (50), receiving yards (795) and touchdown catches (nine).
All three of USC’s losses this season have come on the road to Associated Press Top-25 teams.
This year’s game is a 94-year-old rematch of the first Rose Bowl game played in the current Pasadena stadium, with the 1923 rendition also serving as the initial bowl contest for each program.
How to watch
Game time: 5 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN