Penn State Faces Southern Cal in “The Granddaddy of Them All” Monday

PASADENA, Calif. – “The Granddaddy of Them All” will feature a pair of the nation’s hottest teams as No. 5 Penn State will take on No. 9 Southern California in the 103rd annual Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual Monday, Jan. 2, in Pasadena, California.

(Photo by Paul Burdick. Check out more of Burdick’s work here)

The game is slated to kick at 2:10 p.m. local time and 5:10 p.m. Eastern in Rose Bowl Stadium, and it will be televised on ESPN.

Penn State’s victory in the Big Ten Championship game earned the Nittany Lions their first Rose Bowl appearance since 2009 and third since joining the Big Ten Conference. USC earned its bid by being the highest-ranked Pac-12 Conference team not included in the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Penn State and USC share unique bowl game histories, as both played in their first bowl game in the 1923 Rose Bowl. That game was also the first Rose Bowl Game played in the current location.

The Nittany Lions and Trojans took similar paths to this year’s game, as both faced challenges in their first four games of 2016 but have not lost since. Penn State opened at 2-2, but has won its last nine games, including the Big Ten Championship game, while USC opened at 1-3 and has won its last eight games. Penn State has not scored less than 38 points in its last six games, but USC has not allowed more than 27 points during its eight-game winning streak.

Neither team had any starting experience at the quarterback position entering the season, but Penn State’s Trace McSorley and USC’s Sam Darnold have both enjoyed very successful seasons. McSorley was named to the All-Big Ten second team and was the MVP of the Big Ten Championship game, while Darnold was named the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.

Penn State will be without two key players – linebacker Manny Bowen and wide receiver Saeed Blacknell, who were both suspended for violation of team rules after making the trip to California.


  • Of Penn State’s 12 regular season opponents, eight earned bowl game invitations: Pitt (8-4), Temple (10-3), Michigan (10-2), Minnesota (8-4), Maryland (6-6), Ohio State (11-1), Iowa (8-4) and Indiana (6-6).
  • The Nittany Lions went 6-2 against bowl eligible opponents during the regular season.
  • Leading the eight is Ohio State, which was awarded a bid to a College Football Playoff semifinal game (Fiesta Bowl).
  • Michigan also claimed a “New Year’s Six” bowl berth, earning an invitation to the Orange Bowl where the Wolverines lost a close contest to Florida State Friday.
  • Four of the six “New Year’s Six” bowls will feature a Big Ten team, as Penn State’s Big Ten Conference Championship opponent, Wisconsin, earned a place in the Cotton Bowl.
  • Penn State defeated two (Ohio State, Wisconsin) of the three other Big Ten schools that earned “New Year’s Six” bowl bids.


  • The Nittany Lions’ 13 opponents, prior to bowl season, earned a combined record of 78-57, which ranks 15th in FBS.
  • Of the 11 teams Penn State has defeated, they had a combined 70 FBS wins entering bowl season, which ranks Penn State’s “strength of wins” fourth in FBS. (Source Phil Steele)


  • Among Penn State’s victories was a win over American Athletic Conference Champion Temple in September. It was one of three non-conference games Penn State played during the regular season.
  • Penn State defeated Big Ten West Division Champion Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game.


  • Five of Penn State’s 13 opponents this season were ranked in the final College Football Playoff rankings: No. 3 Ohio State, No. 6 Michigan, No. 8 Wisconsin, No. 23 Pitt and No. 24 Temple.
  • Penn State went 3-2 against the five.
  • USC is the sixth currently CFP-ranked team Penn State faces this season.
  • Penn State faced five teams in the final 2015 CFP rankings, but went 0-5, and it went 0-2 against CFP teams in 2014.
  • Six of Penn State’s 13 opponents are also ranked in the most recent AP poll, as Iowa joins the previously mentioned quintet at No. 21.
  • Penn State has a 4-2 record against the six.
  • USC is the seventh currently AP-ranked team Penn State faces this season.
  • With the exception of Pitt, the same teams are ranked in the Amway Coaches Poll. Pitt is the first unranked team receiving votes.


  • Clay Helton is in his second season as head coach after serving as the Trojans’ passing game coordinator/ quarterbacks coach from 2012-13 and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach from 2013-14.
  • After taking over as head coach mid-season in 2015, Helton led the Trojans to a 5-4 record, including wins over No. 3 Utah and No. 22 UCLA.
  • Helton was also USC’s interim head coach for the 2013 Las Vegas Bowl.
  • Prior to his stint at USC, Helton was an assistant coach at Memphis from 2000-09.
  • Helton got his coaching start at Duke in 1995 before returning to his alma mater Houston, in 1997.
  • He was a quarterback at Auburn from 1991-92 before transferring to Houston from 1993-94. While at Houston, Helton played under his father, head coach Kim Helton.


  • USC is 9-3 overall and 7-2 in Pac-12 play, finishing second in the Pac-12 South Division behind Colorado.
  • The Trojans will be playing in Rose Bowl Stadium for the second time in three games. They last played there Nov. 19 when they downed UCLA, 36-14, after scoring 22 unanswered points.
  • The Trojans started the season at just 1-3, but have built an eight-game winning streak since.
  • USC has been able to hold teams to an average of 22.2 points per game, ranking them at No. 24 in scoring defense against and No. 4 in the Pac-12.
  • Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson was named the 2016 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He also sees time as a wide receiver and returner.
  • Jackson is one of six players in FBS to return multiple punts for touchdowns this season (2).
  • Redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold was chosen as the 2016 Pac-12 Freshman Offensive Player of the Year. Darnold enters the game completing 213-of-313 pass attempts for 2,633 yards and 26 touchdowns. His .681 completion percentage leads the Pac-12 and ranks sixth in FBS.
  • Darnold has been protected well this season as the Trojans’ 0.92 sacks allowed per game lead the Pac-12 and rank sixth in FBS.


  • Penn State made its first postseason appearance in 1923 when it traveled across the country to face USC in the Rose Bowl Game to cap off the 1922 season. Since then, both schools have ranked among the national leaders in bowl appearances and bowl success.
  • Penn State is making its 47th bowl appearance all-time, tied for No. 9 nationally with Ohio State. USC will be making its 51st bowl appearance, which ranks sixth nationally.
  • The Nittany Lions’ 28 bowl victories are tied for No. 4 nationally with Oklahoma, and lead all Big Ten Conference institutions. The Trojans have 33 wins to rank second all-time.
  • Penn State’s 63.0 winning percentage in bowl games (28-16-2 record) is No. 3 nationally among teams with at least 20 bowl appearances. USC (66.0) is the national leader.
  • Penn State has won five of its last nine bowl games, with victories in the 2006 FedEx Orange Bowl (Florida State), 2007 Outback Bowl (Tennessee), 2007 Alamo Bowl (Texas A&M), 2010 Capital One Bowl (LSU) and 2014 Pinstripe Bowl (Boston College). The losses came in the 2009 Rose Bowl (USC), 2011 Outback Bowl (Florida), 2012 TicketCity Bowl (Houston) and 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl (Georgia).


  • The first Tournament of Roses football game, which was the first postseason football game in the nation, was staged at Tournament Park on January 1, 1902. The game matched the West Coast’s Stanford against midwestern Michigan. Michigan routed Stanford, 49-0, prompting the football contest to be replaced with Roman-style chariot races inspired by the literary classic Ben-Hur. Football was permanently reinstated as part of the Tournament’s traditions in 1916.
  • The exclusive agreement among the Tournament of Roses Association, the Big Ten Conference and the Pac-12 Conference was born in 1946, and the first game played under the agreement took place on January 1, 1947. The pact is the oldest intercollegiate postseason bowl agreement between two major conferences in the United States.
  • The game has been important in the history of radio and television. The Rose Bowl was the first local radio broadcast of an East-West bowl game in 1926, the first transcontinental radio broadcast of a sporting event in 1927, the first local telecast of a college football game in 1948, the first national telecast of a college football game in 1952 and the first coast-to-coast color telecast of a college football game in 1962.


  • Penn State has a 1-2 record in three appearances in the Rose Bowl, participating in the ninth (1923), 81st (1995) and 95th (2009) editions of the game. Penn State fell to USC in 1923 and 2009, but defeated Oregon in 1995.
  • The 1923 Rose Bowl between Penn State and USC was the first played in the current stadium in the Arroyo Seco location.
  • The Nittany Lions brought proper closure to a landmark 1994 season by beating Oregon, 38-20, in the 1995 Rose Bowl. Having won their first Big Ten Championship in their second year of conference play. The Lions became the first Big Ten squad ever to earn a 12-0 record and the first Conference team to earn an unblemished record since Ohio State in 1968.
  • It is the fifth California bowl game for Penn State. In addition to the three previous Rose Bowl appearances, Penn State won the 1989 Holiday Bowl in San Diego over BYU, 50-39. Penn State is 2-2 in California bowls.


  • Penn State will be playing the program’s 30th January bowl game and owns an 18-11 record in the month.
  • This is Penn State’s fifth time playing on Jan. 2, and the third time in the last four bowl appearances.
  • Penn State is 2-2 on Jan. 2, winning the 1987 Fiesta Bowl and 1995 Rose Bowl.


  • The Tournament of Roses has had a “Never on Sunday” tradition since 1893, the first year since the beginning of the Tournament, that New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday. The Tournament wanted to avoid frightening horses that would be hitched outside churches and thus interfering with worship services so the events were moved to the next day, January 2. Though horses are no longer outside local churches, the tradition remains to this day.
  • Penn State will be affected by the policy for the second time in four appearances. The Nittany Lions’ 1995 triumph over Oregon was played on Monday, Jan. 2.
  • The 2017 Rose Bowl will be the 14th Rose Bowl played on Monday, Jan. 2 and the 16th not played on New Year’s Day (Thursday, Jan. 3, 2002 and Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2006 – both were BCS National Championship Games).


  • Penn State will be playing in a Monday bowl for the 10th time in 47 bowl appearances.
  • Penn State owns a 5-4 record in Monday bowl games, winning four of their last five.
  • Penn State’s lone Rose Bowl win came on a Monday (Jan. 2, 1995).


  • USC will become Penn State’s most common bowl opponent, as the 2017 Rose Bowl will mark the fourth bowl meeting between the storied programs.
  • USC owns a 2-1 advantage in bowl games with Penn State, winning both Rose Bowls (1923, 2009), while Penn State won the 1982 Fiesta Bowl.
  • USC is one of five opponents Penn State has played three or more times in bowl games. The Nittany Lions have faced Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Tennessee three times each.


  • RB Ki-Jana Carter set a Penn State bowl record with three rushing touchdowns in the 1995 Rose Bowl. He also rushed for 156 yards, which ranks third on the Penn State bowl ledger.
  • Carter’s 83-yard touchdown run in the game still stands as a Penn State bowl record, and Chafie Fields’ 84-yard run in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl is the only longer run by a Nittany Lion in a bowl game.
  • QB Daryll Clark set a Penn State bowl record with 273 passing yards in the 2009 Rose Bowl against USC. However, Christian Hackenberg shattered the record with 371 passing yards in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl.
  • Clark also completed 21 passes in the same game to tie Michael Robinson’s record set in the 2006 Orange Bowl. Again however, Hackenberg shattered the record with 24 completions in the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl.
  • QB Kerry Collins’ 63.3 percent completion percentage in the 1995 Rose Bowl ranks third in Penn State bowl history.
  • LB Navorro Bowman’s 5.0 tackles for loss in the 2009 Rose Bowl still stands as a Penn State bowl record.
  • Todd Atkins and Phil Yeboah-Kodie had 2.0 sacks each in the 1995 Rose Bowl, which places both in a seven-way tie for the Penn State bowl record.


  • Penn State’s Rose Bowl appearance will be its third since joining that Big Ten in 1993, which ranks the Nittany Lions third in the Big Ten Conference.
  • Over the past 24 seasons, Wisconsin leads all Big Ten schools with six appearances, while Michigan ranks second with four.
  • Penn State’s third appearance frees it from a tie with Ohio State at two appearances. Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, Michigan State and Iowa have all made one appearance each.


  • USC has appeared in a record 32 Rose Bowls and has won a record 24, which is not only a Rose Bowl record but the most wins by a school in a single bowl.
  • USC has won 11 of its last 13 Rose Bowls, including its last three (2007-09). The 2009 victory was over Penn State.


  • Penn State is 24-13 all-time against the current alignment of the Pac-12 and 5-3 in bowl games.
  • The Nittany Lions last played Pac-12 foes during the 2008 season, hosting Oregon State before facing USC in the 2009 Rose Bowl.


  • Penn State is 14-11 all-time against California schools.
  • Penn State last played a California team in 2015, hosting San Diego State and earning a 37-21 victory.
  • Penn State last played in California at the 2009 Rose Bowl, falling to USC.
  • In addition to a 2-2 bowl record in California, Penn State is 3-5 when playing in California.


  • Penn State and USC both rank among the top-10 programs in winning percentage and total victories in NCAA history. They are two of eight programs to enjoy winning records in each of the past 12 seasons.
  • Penn State ranks No. 8 in all-time victories (867) and No. 10 in winning percentage (.687).
  • USC ranks at No. 10 with 820 victories and No. 8 with an all-time winning percentage of .700.
  • The Nittany Lions and Trojans are also among the most ranked teams in NCAA history, according to the AP poll (since 1936).
  • Penn State’s 598 weeks ranked among the AP Top-25 rank ninth all-time, while USC’s 747 weeks are sixth.
  • Penn State is making its 47th bowl appearance, tied for No. 9 nationally. USC will be making its 51st bowl appearance, which ranks sixth.
  • The Nittany Lions’ 28 bowl victories are tied for No. 4 nationally. The Trojans have 33 wins to rank second.
  • Penn State’s 63.0 winning percentage in bowl games (28-16-2 record) is No. 3 nationally among teams with at least 20 postseason appearances. USC (66.0) is the national leader (33-17).


  • With the exception of their inaugural 1923 matchup, the Penn State and USC series has featured at least one team in the AP Top 25.
  • The 2017 Rose Bowl will mark the fifth consecutive game in which both teams are ranked in the AP Top 25. It will also mark the second consecutive meeting in which both teams were ranked in the AP Top 10.
  • The higher-ranked team was won all but two meetings, as unranked USC upset No. 5 PSU in 1991 and No. 11 Penn State upset No. 7 USC in 1996.

LB Koa Farmer – Lake View Terrace/Notre Dame H.S.


  • PSU sophomore LB Koa Farmer and USC junior DB Kevin Carrasco both attended Notre Dame High School in California.
  • Junior DB Christian Campbell and USC Running Backs coach Tommie Robinson are cousins.
  • PSU alum LaVar Arrington is the legal guardian of USC freshman defensive end Oluwole Betiku Jr.
  • PSU Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Brent Pry and USC Head Coach Clay Helton both coached at Memphis from 2007 to 2009. Pry was the defensive line coach and Helton was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
  • PSU Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Coach Tim Banks and Helton both coached at Memphis during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. Helton was the running backs coach and Banks was the outside linebackers’ coach in 2001 and the defensive backs coach in 2002
  • Assistant Athletics Director, Performance Enhancement Dwight Galt and Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach John Baxter both coached at Maryland during the 1992 and 1993 seasons. Baxter was the running backs and special teams coach and Galt was the assistant strength & conditioning coach in 1992 and the director of strength and conditioning in 1993.


  • Penn State is ranked No. 5 all three polls (CFP, AP, Amway Coaches).
  • Penn State is ranked in both the AP and Coaches polls for a sixth consecutive week for the first time since the 2011 season (six-straight weeks in both polls).
  • Penn State’s No. 5 ranking in the AP poll is its highest since being ranked No. 5 in weeks three and four in 2009. Its No. 5 ranking in the Coaches poll is its highest since being ranked No. 4 in week four in 2009.
  • Following a win over No. 2 Ohio State, the Nittany Lions entered the Associated Press Top 25 in the 24th slot. It marked the first time that Penn State had been ranked since week 15 of the 2011 season.


  • The Nittany Lions are the second of four Big Ten teams ranked in the Top 10 of the College Football Playoff rankings (No. 3 Ohio State, No. 5 Penn State, No. 6 Michigan, No. 8 Wisconsin).
  • Penn State had moved up in the rankings in each prior week after debuting at No. 12 in the CFP committee’s inaugural 2016 rankings (Nov. 1). PSU was ranked 10th the following week (Nov. 8) and eighth Nov. 15 before ranking seventh in the two following weeks.
  • This was the first season since the CFP’s inception in 2014 in which Penn State was ranked by the committee.


  • Penn State defeated Wisconsin, 38-31, in the Big Ten Championship game Dec. 3 in Lucas Oil Stadium to win its first Big Ten Championship since 2008 and fourth overall (1994, 2005).
  • It was Penn State’s first appearance in the Big Ten Championship game since the game’s inception in 2011.
  • Finishing at 8-1 in Big Ten play during the regular season, Penn State clinched a share of the Big Ten East Division title with Ohio State. It is the first divisional title for the Nittany Lions since sharing the Leaders Division crown with Wisconsin in 2011.


  • The Big Ten Football Championship is the 100th Big Ten regular season or tournament title in Penn State Athletics history.
  • Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State are the only conference institutions that have won at least 100 Big Ten titles since 1992-93.
  • Penn State’s initial Big Ten title was delivered by the women’s volleyball squad, winning the first of its 16 Big Ten crowns during the 1992-93 academic year, one year before some Penn State sports began competing in the conference.
  • Full integration of all Penn State sports sponsored by the Big Ten did not occur until 1993-94 (football) and women’s soccer began competing as a varsity sport in 1994-95.


  • Penn State is playing two postseason games for the first time in program history (Big Ten Championship Game, Rose Bowl).
  • Penn State will play 14 games in a season for the first time in program history.


  • Penn State is one of eight FBS teams to have posted winning records each of the last 12 years (Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Boise State, Oklahoma, USC, Florida State, LSU).
  • Penn State’s nine-game winning streak is its longest overall since clicking off nine consecutive victories in 2008. Penn State has not won 10-straight games in a single-season since going 12-0 in 1994.
  • The nine-game winning streak is the third-longest in FBS, behind Alabama (25) and Western Michigan (15).
  • At 11-2, Penn State owns its best 13-game record since posting the same mark in back-to-back seasons in 2008-09.
  • The 2009 season also marked the last time Penn State earned double-digit wins in a single season.
  • The Nittany Lions posted their 16th 11-win season overall.
  • It marks the sixth time in the Big Ten era that Penn State has reached at least 11 wins:


  • Penn State earned eight Big Ten wins for just the second time in program history with the other being the 8-0 conference mark in 1994.
  • The Nittany Lions won eight consecutive Big Ten games for the first time since 1994 when Penn State went 8-0 in league play, which is also the only other time that the Nittany Lions had eight-straight conference victories.
  • The Nittany Lions finished Big Ten play at 8-1 for the first time ever, as Penn State had never played nine Big Ten games in a season before.
  • Penn State’s 8-1 Big Ten record represents its third one-loss Big Ten season (2005 & 2008, 7-1) and second eight-win season (1994, 8-0)


  • Penn State has improved its regular season win total each season under head coach James Franklin. The Nittany Lions went 6-6 in 2014, 7-5 in 2015 and 10-2 in 2016.
  • For Franklin, the 11 total wins are the most in a single season during his six years as a head coach.
  • Franklin has guided his team to a bowl appearance in each of his six seasons as a head coach (3 at Vanderbilt; 3 at Penn State). He is one of 12 active FBS coaches to do so and one of eight coaches to do so while at FBS programs.


  • The 38 points scored by the Nittany Lions were the most given up by the Badgers in regulation this season (23, Ohio State).
  • The 38 points were the most points scored by a Wisconsin opponent since a 59-0 loss to Ohio State in 2014.
  • The 38 points are the fifth-most points scored in a Big Ten Championship game.
  • QB Trace McSorley’s touchdown pass to TE Mike Gesicki was the first touchdown given up by Wisconsin in the first quarter in 2016.
  • Wisconsin had only allowed five field goals in the first quarter all season.
  • Wisconsin had not given up a first quarter touchdown since the last regular season game in 2015 (Minnesota).


  • Penn State has had arguably one of its most exciting seasons ever, posting a program-high four double-digit comebacks this season.
  • The Nittany Lions’ most recently rallied from 21 points down with 5:31 remaining in the second quarter in the Big Ten Championship game. The Lions scored a touchdown before halftime to trail by 14 points at the break, and then outscored Wisconsin 24-3 in the second half.
  • It was the biggest comeback win for Penn State since rallying from a 21-0 deficit in the second quarter for a 35-21 win over Northwestern on Nov. 6, 2010.
  • The Nittany Lions trailed by 10 points (24-14) in the third quarter at Indiana, but rallied to outscore the Hoosiers 31-7 over the final 16:09 for their third double-digit comeback of the season.
  • Against Ohio State, Penn State trailed by 14 points entering the fourth quarter, but scored 17 to win.
  • PSU won when trailing going into the fourth quarter by 14 points for the first time since at least 1967. The Nittany Lions trailed Michigan State by 13 points (37-24) in 1993 entering the fourth quarter. Penn State won the game, 38-37.
  • The comeback trend started against Minnesota. Penn State trailed by 10 at halftime (13-3) but rallied to win 29-26 overtime.
  • Penn State is 3-2 this season when trailing after the third quarter.


  • Penn State won both of its trophy games this season, claiming the Governor’s Victory Bell from Minnesota and the Land Grant Trophy from Michigan State.
  • It marks the first time since 2009 that Penn State has won both trophies in the same season, as the Nittany Lions had not defeated Michigan State since 2009 and Minnesota since 2010.
  • Both trophies were instituted in 1993 when Penn State joined the Big Ten conference.
  • Penn State holds a 14-7 record in Land Grant Trophy games and a 9-5 record in Victory Bell games.


  • Penn State enters the Rose Bowl averaging 36.7 points per game, which is its highest scoring rate since averaging 38.9 points per game for the 2008 season that also concluded in Pasadena.
  • Penn State had not averaged over 30 points per game since the 2008 season.
  • Penn State is scoring on average 13.5 points per game more than it did last season (23.2 ppg).
  • Penn State’s scoring offense ranks 25th in FBS and third in the Big Ten.

Copyright © 2021 EYT Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Any copying, redistribution or retransmission of the contents of this service without the express written consent of EYT Media Group, Inc. is expressly prohibited.

Comments are temporarily closed. A new and improved comments section will be added soon.