The Big Ten Champion, Penn State Nittany Lions, match-up with the USC Trojans in the 2017 Rose Bowl.
USC is one of the hottest teams in the country right now after winning eight straight to end the season and finished at 9-3. Their losses were all to good teams. Despite their record, they have only won two games against bowl eligible teams on the season.
The Trojans started winning games after Sam Darnold took over. He has thrown for 2,633 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Darnold has done all this while completing 68% of his passes. He adds some mobility with 236 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
JuJu Smith-Schuster and Dareus Rogers are the two best receivers for Darnold. Smith-Schuster is a good NFL prospect, but only has 781 receiving yards on the season. The good news is that he has nine touchdowns on the season. Rogers has 654 yards and three touchdowns.
Running back Ronald Jones has had a fantastic season with 1,027 yards rushing and 11 scores. Other running backs have helped the Trojans rush for a total of 2,487 yards, but Jones will see most of the carries.
The Trojans gives up an average amount of passing yards per game at 225. The rush defense is good and gives up 134 yards per game.
Adoree’ Jackson is one of the best athletes in college football and has four interceptions this year. He won’t just have an impact on defense as he is great at returning kicks and punts, as well as lining up on offense occasionally.
Penn State Nittany Lions
The Nittany Lions are also on a hot streak and have won nine straight games to sit at 11-2 for the Rose Bowl. Their losses came to Michigan and Pittsburgh. They have key wins over Ohio State, Temple, Minnesota, Maryland, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Trace McSorley’s emergence has been amazing and has led to Penn State being good. McSorley has thrown for 3,360 yards and 25 touchdowns on the season. He has only thrown five interceptions on the season. His completion percentage of 58% isn’t great, but it doesn’t hurt as bad as turning the ball over would.
There are a lot of receivers that McSorley can go to, but Chris Godwin is his best target. Godwin has 795 yards receiving and nine touchdowns this season. They have a lot of big play threats with nine receivers with a long reception of 40 yards of above.
At running back, Penn State has one of the best players in the country Saquon Barkley. He has 1,302 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. At 5.3 yards per carry Penn State can lean on him to pick up tough yards.
Penn State has an above average rush defense that allows 154 rushing yards per game. The pass defense is good and gives up just 199 passing yards per game.
Linebacker Brandon Bell has fought injury this season, but has stepped up when healthy. He had 18 total tackles twice this season, once coming in their big game against Ohio State.
USC has too many play-makers on both sides of the ball. Adoree’ Jackson will make plays on defense and in the return game to help the Troans get the win.
USC Trojans 34 Penn State Nittany Lions 25